Morocco plans to build a new 14 billion dirham ($1.70 billion) port in Tangier.
The second port is expected to supplement another port opening in July that will be used to capacity within eight years, government officials said on Friday.
The project was endorsed by King Mohammed at a meeting of top government officials late on Thursday, they added.
The new port would be close to the Tangier Mediterranean port, which was launched in 2002 at a cost of about $2.0 billion and is due to be opened in July this year, to benefit from a network of roads, highways and rail lines linking to a free-trade zone nearby and to the rest of the country.
"The new port would be built at a cost of about 14 billion dirhams, almost half of the investment would come from private investors from Morocco and abroad," a senior official involved in the project planning said.
The port, with three container terminals, would have a capacity of five million containers and would also harbour a natural gas liquefaction terminal alongside a re-gasificaton facility, he and other government officials said.
The first port, officially known as Tangier Mediterranean Port, also houses a container terminal with a capacity of three million containers, oil storage, cereals terminal and other facilities.
The oil site will store at least 20,000 tonnes of petroleum products to be sold to local retailers along with offering petroleum products and services to ships docking at the port or crossing the Straits of Gibraltar.
"Work is expected to start in the second quarter of 2008," said a government official who did not want to be named.
"We knew from technical and other studies that the Tangier Med port would be saturated by around 2015.
That is why there is a need for a new port to be built," Said Elhadi, chairman of the Tangier Mediterranean Special Agency (TMSA), said earlier.
Elhadi, whose agency would oversee the new port planning and building, attended the meeting chaired by King Mohammed.
The two ports would have a combined capacity of up to 10 million containers, making the Tangier port complex one of the biggest in the world, Elhadi has said.
Elhadi, who was not immediately available for comment, has said the Tangier port complex would be one of the biggest and most competitive maritimes hub in the Mediterranean region.
The government has a plan to invest up to $18 billion for the 2002-2015 period to take advantage of its status as the only North African country linked with free trade agreements to the United States and the European Union.
Tangier lies on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. It is the capital of the Tangier-Tétouan Region.
Tangier is the second industrial center of Morocco after Casablanca. The industial sectors are diversified: textile, chemical, mechanical, metallurgical and naval.
Currently, the city has four industrial parks of which two have a statute of free economic zone
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