Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has established the development of Manta port as a strategic priority for the country, the head of communications of port authority APM, Fernando Holguin, told BNamericas.
Correa met with APM last week to discuss the port's development plan and determined that a public-private partnership (PPP) between the port authority and a private operator is essential to increase its port's competitiveness.
The port has recently come under fire over its tariffs, with shipping firm CCNI announcing that it would cease to operate at Manta as fees are more competitive at other ports. However, APM expects the firm to return soon, according to Holguin.
APM is currently promoting a development plan that involves increasing the bay's depth to 14m. The port is also working to improve its bulk cargo operations and handling of cruisers and vehicle shipments, the latter of which have been one of its main sources of cargo.
In 2010, the port handled 40,694 vehicles, according to an APM release. The figure represents a 104% increase over the 19,999 vehicles it moved in 2009, and the authority expects vehicle handling to continue to grow during 2011.
Hong Kong's Hutchison Ports Holding (HPH) was awarded the 30-year concession of Manta port in 2006, but withdrew in 2009, after which the port returned to state control. HPH and APM are still negotiating the contract termination.