The Israel Ports Development & Assets Company and Minister of Transportation Shaul Mofaz are prepared to implement a $6 billion master plan to ensure the development and global competitiveness of local ports over the next 50 years. "About 98 percent of Israeli trade goes through the ports and, therefore, continuing to develop the ports is of utmost importance to the growth of Israel's economy and to boost Israel's involvement in global trade," said Shlomo Brieman, acting CEO of the Israel Ports Development & Assets Company presenting the master plan in Tel Aviv on Monday. "The plan seeks cooperation with the private sector and aims to increase competition between the ports." The cabinet is expected to vote on the plan in February. "This program will make a difference to Israel's trade volume, provide an engine of growth to the economy and help close the gap between the center of the country and the periphery," said Mofaz. The first stage of the plan, which will extend through 2015, includes construction of a 1,000-meter long and 600-meter wide terminal suitable for very large ships at a cost of $700 million. The master plan verified that the new terminal will be built at the Ashdod Port or Haifa Port. "We are trying not to repeat the mistakes of the past," said Gideon Siterman, Director-General of the Ministry of Transport. "Crucial criteria in deciding over whether the Ashdod Port or the Haifa Port will be leading the development work will include proper labor relations between management and workers to avoid any conflicts and failures." Siterman added that an inter-ministerial committee including the Treasury will be set up to examine the options and possible alternatives to advance the plan. In the long-term, the master plan sees the potential of a 5 to 8 percent annual increase in the growth rate of foreign trade. Local container traffic is expected to grow at an annual 7% in the short-term and up to 5% until 2055. According to the master plan, a 9,200-meter pier will be needed in order to meet the anticipated demand in 2055, compared with the current piers, which are a maximum of 3,300 meters long.