COSCO SHIPPING Ports (”COSCO SHIPPING Ports” or “CSP”, HKEX stock code: 1199) and Abu Dhabi Ports inaugurated CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal at Khalifa Port; positioning Abu Dhabi as the regional hub for COSCO’s global network of 36 ports and further connecting the Emirate to the major trade hubs along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The deepwater, semi-automated container terminal includes the largest Container Freight Station (CFS) in the Middle East, covering 275,000 square metres. 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 de-consolidated cargo as well as easy connectivity with container terminals in Khalifa Port. The terminal is also the first international greenfield subsidiary of COSCO SHIPPING Ports, a subsidiary of China COSCO Shipping, the largest integrated shipping enterprise in the world. CSP has so far invested AED1.1 billion in capital expenditure on construction and machinery at the terminal.
The partnership with COSCO SHIPPING Ports is part of a five-year strategy by Abu Dhabi Ports aimed at strengthening the maritime sector in Abu Dhabi and driving economic diversification, in line with Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, by increasing regional trade and attracting foreign direct investment. Abu Dhabi Ports has earmarked AED10 billion in investment that will increase capacity at Khalifa Port from the current 5 million TEU to 9.1 million TEU, which also includes boosting capacity at Terminal 1 to more than 5 million TEU.
The CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal has a design capacity of 2.5 million TEU and will begin with a handling capacity of 1.5 million TEU, with 1200 metres of quay. The water depth of the terminal is 16.5 metres, allowing it to accommodate mega-vessels typically carrying in excess of 20,000 TEU.
The terminal was formally inaugurated at a ceremony at Khalifa Port by His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, and was also attended by His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Transport; His Excellency Ning Jizhe, Deputy Director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”); His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports; His Excellency He Jianzhong, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Transport of the PRC; His Excellency Ni Jian, Ambassador of the PRC in the UAE; Captain Xu Lirong, Chairman of China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited (“COSCO Shipping”); Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports; Mr. Zhang Wei, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of COSCO SHIPPING Ports; in addition to high profile VIPs.
At the inauguration, His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan commented: “The UAE, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE President, continues to develop advanced infrastructure across social and economic sectors.” He added that the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, has always focused on developing strategic partnerships with the international community to ensure sustainable development. He highlighted that the CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal is among key projects that will have a positive impact across a number of sectors, including industry, trade, services, and logistics.
His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also emphasised the cordial and productive relations that have developed between the UAE and China over the past 34 years. “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. We look forward to nurturing our partnership in a spirit of friendly cooperation.”
His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Transport, said: “The decision by COSCO SHIPPING Ports to invest in Abu Dhabi is a testament to our strategic location, attractive business environment and supportive regulation. We believe that it will open the door to more foreign direct investment in the Emirate.”
His Excellency Ning Jizhe, Deputy Director of NDRC, expressed his view that, “The 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 UAE’s pragmatic cooperation in other key areas. The two countries’ strong determination for cooperation laid a solid foundation for development and deepening of mutual relations, and thus provided promising prospects for cooperation in the future. Under the strategic leadership, China and UAE will continue to cooperate in more flagship projects and jointly contribute to “Belt and Road Initiative”.”
His Excellency He Jianzhong, Deputy Ministry of Ministry of Transport of the PRC, said, “CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal is the latest major achievement from China and UAE’s joint efforts to implement ‘the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ in ports and shipping industry. CSP and Abu Dhabi Ports will continue to cooperate and increase capacity of Abu Dhabi Khalifa Port to make it a container gateway port and an important hub port in the Middle East in the near future, with an aim to better serve trade and economic development, as well as local community and people.”
His Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “This inauguration is yet another example of the long history of economic cooperation between China and the UAE. The expansion of Khalifa Port in partnership with CSP will further enhance the UAE’s role as an important trading link between East and West, promote our country’s economic diversification and contribute to the global connectivity of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
“I am proud that this accomplishment has been achieved during the Year of Zayed, as it was through the vision and leadership of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, that the foundations were laid for the strong bond we share with China today. Almost three decades later, the UAE’s relationship with China continues to flourish, growing deeper and stronger in line with China’s increasing importance as a global economic powerhouse.”
Captain Xu Lirong, Chairman of COSCO Shipping, said: “The completion of CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal is just another milestone in the successful partnership between China and Abu Dhabi, and it will prove to be a fruitful cooperation between the two countries. Port business is one of the important parts of COSCO; we will support the development of the terminal to the fullest extent of our capability by developing shipping routes and transshipment network to drive the volume growth of CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal. The terminal is set to be a pivot for us to develop a global maritime hub for international transshipment and logistics.”
Mr. Zhang Wei, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of CSP, said: “We are launching this semi-automatic terminal to serve vessels of all sizes and to help ensure a promising future for this region. CSP Abu Dhabi terminal will be equipped with value-added services such as feeder service network and easy connectivity with container terminals in Khalifa Port. It’s our broader strategy to develop Abu Dhabi as a regional logistics and trade hub and link it with industrial free zones to expand and diversify the economy. Backed by our parent company, we will harness our unparalleled strengths to turn Abu Dhabi into a regional hub and a competitive shipping service center.”
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal connects Khalifa Port to COSCO’s global network, making it not only one of the largest ports across the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, but a global maritime hub.
“Abu Dhabi’s strategic location as a gateway to the MENA region makes it an important partner for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, connecting Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors.”
China is the UAE’s largest non-oil trade partner. In 2017, bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 15 per cent to more than US$53 billion, representing 14.7 per cent of the UAE’s total foreign trade. During the same period the UAE accounted for nearly 30 per cent of total Chinese exports to Arab countries and about 22 per cent of total Arab-China trade. Bilateral trade is expected to increase to US$70 billion a year by 2020.
The new terminal will ease the way for companies seeking to establish, expand or enhance their trade by using local manufacturing, warehousing or logistics operations within Abu Dhabi and, through them, service regional, Middle Eastern, African and international markets.
In addition to attracting investors from Eastern Asia, it will increase Khalifa Port’s competitiveness and act as a catalyst for investment by foreign companies to set up in the free zone of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), the region’s largest industrial, manufacturing and logistics hub and free zone. KIZAD, which comprises 410 square kilometres, has to date attracted more than 200 tenants and AED65 billion (US$17.7 billion) in investment. So far, a total of 19 Chinese companies have signed lease agreements for land in the demonstration zone established within the Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone in August 2017 by the Chinese Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (JOCIC).
CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal is the result of the 35-year agreement between Abu Dhabi Ports and COSCO SHIPPING Ports whose terminal portfolio covers the five main port regions in Mainland China, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The new terminal is part of Abu Dhabi Ports’ five-year growth strategy to increase Khalifa Port, with its two container terminals, to a combined total capacity of 9.1 million TEUs. The addition of CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal has already moved Khalifa Port up from being the 89th largest container port in world rankings to within the top 25.