Abu Dhabi, Dec. 16: China’s COSCO Shipping Ports (CSP) and Abu Dhabi Ports on Monday inaugurated the new CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal at Khalifa Port to help connect Abu Dhabi to the company’s global network of 36 ports and bolster its role as a hub along China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The deep-water, semi-automated container terminal includes the region’s largest container freight station, covering a total area of 275,000 square-metres. The facility also offers facilities for full and partial bonded container shipments and a range of container packing services, warehousing for de-consolidated cargo and connectivity to other terminals in Khalifa Port.
The terminal is also CSP’s first greenfield subsidiary. So far, CSP has invested AED 1.1 billion ($299.4 million) in capital expenditure on construction and machinery at the facility.
According to Abu Dhabi Ports, the partnership with CSP forms part of a larger effort to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s maritime sector and the emirate’s economic diversification.
Abu Dhabi Ports has earmarked AED 10 billion ($2.72 billion) in investment to increase capacity at Khalifa Port from the current 5 million TEU to 9.1 Million TEU, which includes boosting capacity at Terminal 1 to over 5 million TEU.
The CSP Abu Dhabi terminal, for its part, has a design capacity of 2.5 million TEU and will begin with a handling capacity of 1.5 million TEU.
“The decision by COSCO Shipping Ports to invest in Abu Dhabi is a testament to our strategic location, attractive business environment and supportive regulation,” said Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Transport. “We believe that it will open the door to more foreign direct investment.”
Ning Jizhe, Deputy Director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, said that the CSP terminal is a “major milestone” for China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
“[It is} also a good start for China and UAE’s pragmatic cooperation in other areas,” he said. “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….China and UAE will continue to cooperate in more flagship projects and jointly contribute to the Belt and Road Initiative.
China is currently the UAE’s largest non-oil trading partner, with bilateral trade between the two increasing 15 percent to $53 billion in 2017.
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 $70 billion a year by 2020.
The new terminal is also expected to ease the way for companies seeking to establish, expand or enhance their trade by using local manufacturing, warehousing or logistics operations within Abu Dhabi. It will also act as a catalyst for investment by foreign companies to set up in the free zone of Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad).
Kizad, which comprises 410 square kilometres, has attracted more than 200 tenants and Dh65 billion in investment till date.
A total of 19 Chinese companies have signed lease agreements for land in Kizad with investment surpassing more than $1 billion, officials said earlier this year.
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.