In the last three decades, globalization has played an important role in dramatically accelerating the evolution of competitive trade which requires comprehensive and correlated trade logistics including transportation that represents the heart of these logistics. Advanced information technology and communications has performed a pivotal role in designing new multi-means transportation and handling systems.
In response to these changes, a fifth generation of ports has developed to expand the functionality and specifications of a port from a port gate to a logistic center. Consequently, significant changes to the ports management and handling systems have been introduced in order to insure fast, reliable and low-cost shipping that would comply and compete with the advanced modelled vessels.
Mean while, Iraq’s ports have been continuously depleted as a result of consecutive wars that has weakened its capabilities to the degree that it cannot function as a first generation port. Without any options, Iraq has needed to rely on the use of ports of other nearby countries for the import and export of its goods. Additionally, Iraq has not been able to take advantage and utilize effectively its geographical location and be a part of the growing global trades between the advanced western world and the developing economies of eastern countries.
Since Iraqi ports have favourable characteristics, the likes of excellent geographical location, in terms of representing the shortest link between the west and east, this study surmises the possibilities of improving the competitive capabilities of Iraqi ports through the implementation of suggested requirement provided in the thesis. Further more, this thesis aims at analysing the competitive capabilities of current Iraqi ports and highlights the real reasons behind its deterioration. This leads us to conclude a set of requirements to improve the Iraqi ports so it can compete successfully with the other regional ports.
In order to accomplish these goals, the thesis is divided into four chapters as follows:
Chapter one: Introduction to the transportation theory, with focus on the shipping systems and its role in global trade.
Chapter two: Current competitive capabilities of the Iraqi ports in the light of the modernization of vessels.
Chapter three: Analysis of the potential international demand on Iraqi port services.
Chapter four: Quantitative and qualitative requirements to enhance the competitive capabilities of Iraqi ports.
The thesis has concluded that the incapable Iraqi port’s infrastructure for handling large commercial vessels is the most significant factor in reducing its competitive capabilities for international trade despite the attractive low docking fees offered by these ports. The current global trend of building large vessels to reduce shipping cost has made the necessity of having facilities for handling large vessels a prerequisite for improving the Iraqi ports efficiency and competiveness in response to the potential global trade demands. In addition, the thesis has found that the Iraqi ports and its dry canal will not be an alternative to the shipping line through the Suez Canal but a complimentary shipping line.
The thesis has suggested that the construction of Al Faw grand port, in compliance with the international specifications, is an essential step towards improving the Iraqi competitive capabilities. Al Faw grand port must be provided with efficient facilities and equipped with advanced technology in order to accommodate the handling of giant vessels and large numbers of containers. The dry canal needs to be constructed concurrently with the Al Faw grand port in order to prevent any possible congestion as a result of high trading demand. In addition, the thesis has suggested the necessity for joining the international and the regional organizations / unions that governs the shipping industry and comply with their related regulations and guidelines.