The newly-appointed Transport Minister Emir Jabbar, has instructed the General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI) to invite foreign shipping groups to lease Khor al-Zubair’s 11 berths on one-year leases.

A similar process has been implemented at Umm Qasr, where the GCPI has leased one of the southern port’s nine berths to the French shipping group CMA CGM.

Baghdad aims to increase traffic at Iraq’s largest ports, raising shipwrecks from the channel leading to Umm Qasr and the Shatt al-Arab waterway near Basra.

“The Shatt al-Arab still needs a lot of work to remove ordinances and wrecks. We are working with Iran to clear the two sides of the waterway,” says a senior GCPI official.

“However, they are smaller ports along the Shatt al-Arab. To open up sea trade, we are concentrating on Umm Qasr and Khor al-Zubair.”