Multi-million pound plans for a new container terminal at the Port of Liverpool have been given a boost.
The European Investment Bank has agreed to provide almost half the finance for the £305m Liverpool 2 development.
Currently going through tendering process, the port's construction is due to start next year and completion expected in 2015.
Port managing director Gary Hodgson said the announcement is "another sign of confidence" in the region.
It is hoped the project will create 5,000 jobs and bring the world's largest container ships to the River Mersey.
The post-Panamax terminal - for ships wider than the original Panama Canal - will be capable of handling ships carrying 13,500 containers, compared to the current limit of 3,500 in Liverpool.
It will accommodate two large vessels at one time and allow goods to be imported and exported by sea.
Geoff Muirhead, chairman of the Atlantic Gateway, a network of major developments along the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal, said it was "great news".
"This follows hard on the heels of the government's full approval for the construction of the Northern Hub Rail Improvement Project," he said.
"These two schemes mark a very successful start to the campaign designed to lever massive economic benefit and jobs across the whole of the North West."
Owner Peel Ports, said the terminal, which is part of a 20-year plan to transform the Port of Liverpool, would be more efficient and better for the environment as it would take large amounts of freight off the UK road and rail networks.