Jordan: A public-private partnership brings order to Aqaba’s port

Authors: Doina Cebotari and Allen Dennis
Publication: Celebrating Reforms 2008
Download Now


The port of Aqaba, Jordan’s only sea port, was the country’s biggest hindrance to trade in mid-2003. Waiting times for ships at berth were long, and congestion at the container terminal severe. Major international shipping lines suspended their dealings with the Aqaba Container Terminal. But by the end of 2005 the congestion had disappeared, and the congestion charge was gone—thanks to reforms. This case study follows the road to reform through a public-private partnership, which helped finance the positive changes.

Main Findings

  • The 2004 reforms at Aqaba started yielding results quickly. By February 2005 the anchorage waiting time—129 hours in 2003—was completely gone.
  • Average port stays dropped from 8 days to a few hours, with all congestion surcharges cancelled by 1 March 2005.
  • By 2007 container dwelling times were down to 16 days, and port productivity had more than tripled, from 9 moves an hour to 28.
  • By 2007, there was also a 14% increase in the number of vessels calling at Aqaba and a 40% increase in the average cargo size per vessel.
  • The number of days to import dropped from 28 in 2004 to 22 in 2007, and the number of days to export fell from 28 in 2004 to 19 in 2007.
  • The cost to export also dropped from $720 per 20-foot container in 2004 to $680 in 2007.