Beirut, Lebanon (PortSEurope) April 2, 2021 – Local sources in Germany reported this week that Berlin plans to submit a proposal for the reconstruction of the port of Beirut, which was severly damaged by explosions last August. The European Investment Bank (EIB) would allocate €2-3 billion ($2.3-3.5 billion) to a project which could cost €4.5-12 billion ($5-15 million). Reuters reported that such a project could
create up to 50,000 jobs and require 100 hectares of land. France is also interested in the project but, so far, not in a joint project with Berlin. The detonation on August 4 of some 2,700 tonnes of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate that killed almost 200 people, injured 6,000, left over 300,000 without proper housing and with damages estimated at $15 billion, fueled outrage over government corruption, incompetence, negligence and inaction. Any such project would come with stringent conditions focused on the political establishment stabilising the country’s finances and tackling inherent and widespread corruption. There is little sign of these issues being tackled by current political power brokers. Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri and President Michel Aoun have not yet even been able to agree on a new cabinet. German sources report that the consultant Roland Berger compiled the proposal which will be proposed April 7. Local sources in Lebanon have said that the French shipping group CMA CGM would also been interested in such a project. The company has historical links with the country. Any rebuilding of the port and its associated huge investment has political as well as business implications. Lebanon has been in a chaotic state for many years, as various parties – including Iran and Syria – compete for regional influence and control. Last October, Dubai’s DP World and Israel Shipyards Industries jointly submitted a bid to take over Haifa port which is set to be privatised. This was a result of a formal agreement signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain formalizing diplomatic relations between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations. Press reports from the UAE suggest that that DP World may have wider ambitions for its business in Israel, and possibly looking at investment opportunities in the ports of Eilat and Ashdod. “Israel is a good and a very strategic bridge between Europe and many parts of the business that we have,” said Sultan Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World. China and Turkey would also like to establish a presence in the region and are interested in Israel’s port privatisation programme. Further PortSEurope reading: Analysis – France expected to beat China in the race for the Port of Beirut – Hezbollah is the main obstacle – October 2020 Analysis – Could DP World and Maersk prevent China from taking over all Haifa Bay ports? – November 2020 Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.