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New Chinese-operated Haifa Bay Port Starts Operations

New Chinese-operated Haifa Bay Port starts operations

Haifa, Israel (PortSEurope) September 2, 2021 – China’s state-owned Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) won the tender in 2015 to operate the new Bay Port at Haifa for 25 years. SIPG has reportedly spent around $3 billion in the new facility – a huge amount that includes the cost for semi-automated loading technology (Israeli ports are notorious for high labour costs). The new terminal will
have an initial annual capacity of 1.06 million TEUs and the second stage of the Bayport terminal (a total of 1,500 meters of quay length, a 78 hectares surface and 17.3 meters draft) will increase its capacity to 1.86 million containers per year. It will be the newest and by far the most advanced port in the Mediterranean Sea. The facility will enable larger classes of cargo ships, carrying 18,000 containers or more, to dock in Israel. Chinese involvement in such a large project has attracted significant criticism. A presence in the Mediterranean, together with assets owned and managed by China’s COSCO Ports Shipping and China Merchants Group, would expand Chinese activities in the region, close to the Suez Canal. Together with Haifa port, they could form part of a transport corridor with Middle East countries. This fits into Beijing’s “One Belt and One Road” strategy. It is also of concern to the USA which sees it as a further expansion of Chinese interests in the region. In Greece, Piraeus Port Authority is operated by China’s COSCO Shipping Ports Limited. Washington has concerns with the SIPG development and did not want to see a new Chinese business with the latest technology at a port where the U.S. Sixth Fleet is a regular visitor. Also, Washington is concerned that China will use the harbour to improve its standing in the Middle East and potentially gather intelligence on U.S. interests. For Israel, warming ties with neighbouring Arab countries are creating new trade opportunities for Israel and Haifa is well placed to become a regional hub at a time when bilateral trade with Arab countries could increase significantly. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.

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