COSCO to make Zeebrugge northwest Europe "gateway"
Author: CSEBA / Fairplay
27th January 2018
LONDON - Cosco has taken control of the former APM Terminals Zeebrugge following the signing of a concession agreement for the terminal with the port authority.

International port operator COSCO Shipping Ports (CSP) has said that it plans to turn the Belgian port of Zeebrugge into a “maritime crossroads” for mega container vessels and an “ultra-logistic” platform for continental Europe and the British Isles.

The Chinese group spoke of its plans after officially took control of the former APM Terminals Zeebrugge following the signing of a concession agreement for the terminal with the port authority.

CSP vce-chairman and managing director Zhang Wei, who signed the agreement on the group’s behalf, pointed to the fact that the terminal, which has been renamed CSP Zeebrugge, was the first in northwest Europe in which the group had a controlling stake, making it the group’s “first gateway port” in the region.

He said that CSP had chosen to invest in Zeebrugge because of its prime geographical location and the fact that it offered sufficient water depth to allow it to receive mega container vessels in ideal conditions.

“We plan not only to develop CSP Zeebrugge into a maritime crossroads,” he said, “but also an ultra-logistic platform to serve continental Europe and the British Isles”.

The Chinese group plans to rely on its partner, CMA CGM, to help it develop its logistics activities at the port.

In addition to the concession agreement it signed with Port of Zeebrugge on 22 January, it signed a memorandum of understanding with CMA CGM, under which the French group will take a 10% stake in the CSP Zeebrugge terminal.

CMA CGM executive director Farid Salem, who signed the memorandum on CMA CGM’s behalf, 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 COSCO Shipping Ports in this terminal and to contribute to its success.”

Belgian deputy prime minister Kris Peeters, who was at the concession signing ceremony, said CSP’s investment in Zeebrugge had proved that, with its open economy and central position, Belgium was an ideal location for investment in logistics.

The country’s exports to China rose 20% during the first nine months of 2017 when a first direct train connection between Zeebrugge and the Chinese city of Daqing had been opened.

APM Terminals announced in September last year that it was selling its majority stake in the Zeebrugge container terminal to its minority partner, CSP, which then had a 24% stake.

Under the terms of the agreement, CSP paid EUR35 million (USD43 million) to buy out APMT and its other partner, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), which had a 25% shareholding.

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