Cosco Shipping Ports seals fresh concession agreement with Port of Zeebrugge, ties up with CMA CGM

Fresh from taking over APM Terminals’ stake for 35m euros in September, Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) is consolidating its position in the Port of Zeebrugge with the sealing of a concession for the container terminal and tying up with Ocean Alliance partner CMA CGM, who is taking a 10% stake in the terminal.

The agreement for the concession terms for CSP Zeebrugge Terminal was signed in Brussels with CSP vice-chairman and Md Zhang Wei and Port of Zeebrugges chairman Renaat Landuyt respectively representing, the company said in a press release. Meanwhile, the MoU between CSP and CMA CGM was signed by Zhang and CMA CGM ed Farid Salem. No financial details were disclosed.

Congratulating the parties on the new opportunity to work together, Belgium’s vice prime minister and minister for work, economic affairs and consumer affairs, responsible for foreign trade Kris Peeters said: “Cosco Shipping’s decision once again proves that, with its open economy and central position in Europe, Belgium is the ideal place for logistics investments.”

He noted that during the first nine months of 2017, Belgium’s exports to China increased by 20%, reaching 6bn euros, making the Asian giant an increasingly significant trading partner. Peeters added that the opening last year of a direct train connection between the port and the Chinese city of Daqing is another example of growing trade flows.

“The continued presence of Cosco Shipping in Zeebrugge contributes to strengthening Belgian-Chinese trade and the international position of the Port of Zeebrugge,”  he said.

Chinese ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing said: “The launch of Belt and Road initiative between China and Belgium in 2014 has laid a solid foundation for today’s signing ceremony. Port of Zeebrugge is farsighted in partnering with China; it’s a pioneer by making a series of decisive moves and has achieved noticeable results.”

“By actively exploring cooperation opportunities with China, Zeebrugge port has gained importance in international sea freight market, especially Northwest European routes. Looking forward to 2018, we are very confident in the relations and trade cooperation between China and Belgium as today’s signing ceremony set a precedent,” he noted. 

Cosco Shipping chairman Xu Lirong noted: “Being the major gateway port of Belgium and major hub port in Northwest Europe, Zeebrugge port plays an important role in sea transportation. The signing of concession terms with Port of Zeebrugge will further enhance the terminal services and deepen the bilateral trade relationships between the two countries; furthermore, we are discussing with Port of Zeebrugge about our cooperation of developing full logistics services on the terminal hinterland, I hope we will have developments soon to enhance the customer services.”

Xu said that after the signing of concession terms CSP will take control of CSP Zeebrugge Terminal and develop it into a gateway port of Cosco Shipping in Northwest Europe.

Zhang said Zeebrugge was chosen as its first gateway port in Northwest Europe due to its prime location and water depth, which makes it well-suited for mega vessels.

Elaborating on CSP’s plans, he said: “We plan not only to develop CSP Zeebrugge into a maritime crossroads but also an ultra-logistics platform to serve continental Europe and the British Isles. With this plan, we will work closely with the Port of Zeebrugge on the Maritime Logistic Zone. Furthermore, we are delighted to have CMA as our partner. With the cooperation of CMA, we are confident that we not only can deliver high quality services but also capture the economic opportunities emerging around the Port of Zeebrugge.”  

CMA CGM’s Salem said: “As one among the leaders in the shipping industry, we are enthusiastic to be part of Zeebrugge Terminal’s future at the invitation of our strategic partner Cosco Shipping Ports. The terminal will be part of our global strategy and we are pleased to become a partner of CSP in this terminal, and to contribute to its success.”

The Port of Zeebrugge is the second largest port in Belgium and is well-located close to hubs in Hamburg and Le Havre as well as the UK. CSP Zeebrugge is the first terminal in Northwest Europe in which CSP holds a controlling stake and will help in establishing its major hub ports and global strategic focal point.

Posted 23 January 2018

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Vincent Wee

Asia Editor, Seatrade Maritime News