CUBA's improving relations with the US could help turn Cuba's Mariel container terminal to become a regional transshipment hub, says London's Drewry Maritime Research.Mariel, 40 kilometres west of Havana, is near enough to the Panama Canal and able to accommodate vessels of up to 13,000 TEU when its expanded lock system is completed next year.
Drewry has argued in its Container Insight Weekly that an end to the US trade embargo is in sight, although, it's difficult to pin down a timeline.
"We expect foreign (non-US) manufacturers will move into Mariel's special economic zone in the expectation of a trade bonanza when it finally happens.
The establishment of Mariel as a pure transhipment hub is likely to be a longer term, more challenging ambition but would be helped by a thriving SEZ," the London-based shipping analyst said.
The newly upgraded deepwater port of Mariel with its special economic zone is a perfect example of the new Cuban model. Foreign participation will be retrained by the need to enter into joint ventures with locals.
The Container Terminal SA Mariel was opened in January 2014 having been built and largely financed by Brazilian money. Singapore's PSA International is the contracted manager of the terminal without an equity stake.
Source : HKSG.