U.N. Ro-Ro offers North African route to Turkish exporters
Özgür Korkmaz - TOULON, FranceAt a time struggling Turkish exporters are looking for ways to diversify their target markets, Turkey’s leading roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) company is offering easier access for goods to North Africa.
The Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan markets are increasing their shares in Turkey’s exports, and it is possible to send goods to these destinations in seven days, according to U.N. Ro-Ro CEO Sedat Gümüşoğlu.
“The total population of 85 million in these countries carries a major potential for our exporters and they can be competitive in these markets with short transit periods thanks to the Ro-Ro voyages via Toulon and Marseille,” Gümüşoğlu told a group of journalists invited to the southern French city of Toulon over the weekend.
U.N. Ro-Ro is marking its sixth year at the port, which is a gateway for Turkish exports to France, Spain, the U.K. and now North Africa.
“This port is significant not only for our firm, but also for the companies that export goods to Western Europe and the companies that import goods from the region,” Gümüşoğlu said aboard the U.N. Istanbul, the biggest ship in the firm’s fleet of 12 vessels.
The 208-meter-long U.N. Istanbul, delivered in 2013, has a capacity of 280 trailers and complies with European Union and Turkish environmental legislation.
Turkish exporters currently send their goods to North Africa via container ships and the delivery takes approximately 20 days. Gümüşoğlu said the same operation can be done in seven days if the exporters use U.N. Ro-Ro’s Istanbul-Toulon line, followed by another Ro-Ro trip from Marseille to the target destination.
U.N. Ro-Ro is currently offering subsidized prices for such trips and is planning to invest in a currently unused railway in the Toulon port to provide easier access to Marseille and other destinations in Europe.
The company runs scheduled Ro-Ro voyages to two more destinations in Europe: Trieste and Ancona in Italy. It uses three ports in Turkey: Pendik on Istanbul’s Anatolian side, Ambarlı on the city’s European side and the Mersin port in the eastern Mediterranean.
The company has also plans to improve the railway system at the Trieste port, which it will operate for 25 years.
“Thanks to these investments, we will support our exporters and contribute to the development of the Turkish economy,” said Gümüşoğlu.
“A 3 percent growth is not enough for a country like Turkey. We should increase our exports and this should support growth. All sides should act jointly to increase exports, and on our part, we want to provide exporters [with] competitive advantages in freight fares and delivery times.”
U.N. Ro-Ro was established in 1994 by 48 Turkish freight operators as UND Ro-Ro, while the company’s name was changed in 2004.
In 2014, the company was bought by a partnership of Esas Holding and the Actera Group. Currently, Actera owns 60 percent of the company, while Esas Holding holds the remaining 40 percent.