Chinese state-owned enterprises now own 10% of Europe’s container terminal capacity

Chinese state-owned enterprises now own 10% of Europe’s container terminal capacity

From the start of this decade to the present day Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have leapt to snap up an astonishing amount of container terminal capacity in Europe. Latest statistics from the OECD’s International Transport Forum show Chinese SOEs, led by Cosco, now control 10% of European container terminal capacity, up from less than 1% at the start of the decade.

More pertinently the data provided by the International Transport Forum shows that while Chinese SOEs have been able to buy up majority stakes in ports across Europe, Beijing has not reciprocated with no European terminal operator able to hold a majority holding of any port in the People’s Republic.

With the unleashing of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, the massive infrastructure project led by president Xi Jinping yoking Asia with Europe, the largest jump in Chinese SOE container terminal acquisitions in Europe was seen in 2017, with Chinese state-backed port holdings in the continent jumping from around 6.5% to 10%.

The frustration among European terminal operators at not being able to hold majority stakes in ports across China, the world’s leading container destination, has also been mirrored by liners across the globe. China’s cabotage rules continue to bar foreign container lines from operating intra-China routes.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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