China flags up UAE as Silk Road mega-hub with $300m port deal

Author: 
Frank Kane
ID: 
1544458256944760100
Mon, 2018-12-10 18:56

ABU DHABI: China, the world largest trading nation, has thrown
its weight behind Abu Dhabi as the Middle East hub for its Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI) in an alliance with the UAE capital’s
Khalifa Port.

Cosco, the Shanghai-based, state-owned group that ranks among
the biggest shipping companies in the world, has invested an
initial $300 million in the CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal, the first step
in an investment program that could help make it one of the biggest
ports in the Arabian Gulf over the next five years. Additional
investment is pledged.

The expansion plan foresees a capacity of 9.1 million TEU
(20-foot equivalent units, the standard measurement in the global
container industry) by 2023. Jebel Ali, just 50 km away in Dubai,
is currently by far the biggest port in the region with capacity of
22.1 million TEU.

China’s BRI is a state-sponsored strategy to enhance land and
sea trading infrastructure in Asia, the Middle East and Africa via
multibillion-dollar investments in trading hubs across the eastern
hemisphere.

The Cosco-Abu Dhabi deal was unveiled at a ceremony at the port
attended by prominent UAE and Chinese leaders.

Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown
Prince Court, said: “China and the UAE share a strong and
long-standing bond across a variety of ties, including economic,
cultural, and trade and investment, and a common vision of a stable
and prosperous future for our peoples and the world.”

He Jianzhong, China’s deputy minister of transport, said:
“(The) terminal is the latest major achievement from China and
the UAE’s joint efforts to implement ‘the 21st-century Maritime
Silk Road’ in the ports and shipping industry.”

The deepwater, semi-automated container terminal includes the
largest container freight station in the Middle East, covering
275,000 square meters.

“The state-of-the-art facility offers facilities for full and
partial bonded container shipments, the full range of container
packing services, short-term warehousing for deconsolidated cargo,
as well as easy connectivity with container terminals in Khalifa
Port,” a joint statement said.

The terminal has a design capacity of 2.5 million TEU and will
begin with a handling capacity of 1.5 million TEU, with 1,200
meters of quayside. The water depth of the terminal is 16.5 meters,
allowing it to accommodate mega-vessels typically carrying in
excess of 20,000 TEU.

Ning Jizhe, deputy director of China’s National Development
and Reform Commission, a state planning organization, said: “This
inauguration ceremony is not only a milestone in the cooperation of
China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative,’ but also a good start for
China and the UAE’s pragmatic cooperation in other key
areas.”

Trade ties have been growing between China and the UAE since a
visit by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to
Beijing three years ago. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the
UAE last summer.

The deal with Cosco is aimed at attracting foreign investment
into the UAE via the Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (KIZAD),
the huge logistics and manufacturing zone that borders the
port.

China’s BRI is one of the most ambitious infrastructure
projects in history, but has been criticized by some observers for
leaving the partners of Chinese companies in debt.

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Source: FS – All-News-Economy
China flags up UAE as Silk Road mega-hub with 0m port deal