Categories: EuropePublished On: 07.07.2020876 words4.5 min read

It’s said that good things come in small packages. The Spanish autonomous city of Melilla, and its port, certainly fit into that category.

Packed into just 12.3 square kilometres, Melilla provides a supercharged combination of opportunities and advantages across the maritime, business and tourism sectors.

Part of Europe but also part of Africa; offering a unique range of tax and fiscal benefits; playing a central role in environmental research; providing a tourist destination like no other – Melilla clearly punches above its weight.

And there is so much more to be done. The versatile, busy and dynamic Port of Melilla is poised for a massive expansion. At the same time, the beautiful, welcoming City of Melilla is preparing for a big increase in tourism. Word is spreading about Melilla’s unique charms. If Melilla has been one of the world’s ‘best kept secrets’, then surely it is time to let the secret out.

“The strength of the Port is the strength of the City of Melilla,” says Luis J Ayala Navarro, director of the Port Authority of Melilla. “We work together. Our special status encompasses some very important strengths. Melilla is outside the European Union’s Customs and VAT jurisdiction, and offers a range of low-tax and other fiscal benefits. Melilla is located between two worlds – Africa and Europe – with a very special blend of cultures, history and trading links. We are just 250 miles from the Gibraltar Strait; all of the main shipping lines on the East to West route pass near the city.

”Melilla is a city and port to be discovered not only for tourists but for investment too, says Mr Ayala. “It is very easy to do business here. Our economy is open to new approaches, ready to take advantage of our special commercial and fiscal conditions. As an entrepreneur, in Melilla it is easy to present your ideas to the Government or the President of the Port Authority and find support and collaboration to develop them.

“For example, many companies, some of them Cruise lines, are asking us about what conditions or restrictions there are here. The answer is none. They are free to do what they want within the law. That is a great strength and freedom for all concerned.

”The Port of Melilla is a truly multipurpose facility, handling liquid and dry bulks, general cargo, roll-on/roll-off cargo and containers. It is also a major passenger port, with regular ferry links to the Spanish mainland, and it is earning a reputation as a cruise destination with a real difference.

In 2017 and 2018, Melilla’s cargo throughput increased significantly, even during and after the global financial crisis. That growth is set to continue; indeed, cargo increase forecasts given by Puertos del Estado in a 2014 study have already been exceeded.

And while small can be beautiful, sometimes size matters. The Port of Melilla must ensure it has the capacity to handle its growing cargo throughput, and plans have been drawn up for a very significant expansion.

A €300 million project, based on an ambitious reclamation, will create 25 hectares of land. This new space will accommo-date not only straightforward cargo handling but also industrial, logistics and added-value activities, all of which can benefit from Melilla’s unique tax status. The development will provide a significant boost to the economy and is forecast to create more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“We are growing very quickly and need to have this expansion in order to handle the higher amounts of cargo and attract investment,” says Mr Ayala. “We need space for logistics operations and for a range of lighter industrial activities. This is strategic not only for the city but also for Spain in this region. It is important to have a strong and efficient logistics platform in North Africa and that is why the Spanish Government is prepared to provide the funding. Expansion is clearly part of our future if we are going to have economic development.”

In the meantime, work will go ahead to create a new berth for large ships over 290 metres in length, along with investment in other new facilities and equipment.

The port authority is also looking at the provision of LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunkers for ships as part of a broader clean energy project, and this ties in with Melilla’s commitments to the environment.

“For us, the environment is very important,” says Mr Ayala. “We need to care for our sea, air and land – it is all we have. With all of our projects, the environment comes first, and we have also played a leading role in a number of recent EU environmental projects.

”Some places are special; Melilla is truly unique. “The challenge for us is that many people are not aware of the advantages on offer, including corporate tax 50% lower and personal income tax 60% lower than in the rest of Spain,” says Mr Ayala. “It is our mission to get that message across.”

Extract from Port of Melilla Handbook 2020  – published

For more infuriation about Puerto de Melilla contact:

Jaime Bustillo Gálvez
Jefe de Planificación Estratégica
[email protected]

Autoridad Portuaria de Melilla
Avda. de la Marina Española, 4  (52001 – Melilla)
Telf.: 952 67 36 00

Online version available here

Port of Melilla Directory website here