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Dr Al Jaber, Shaikh Hamed and Shaikh Theyab during the opening of the Cosco Shipping Ports container terminal at Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Ports on Monday inaugurated the new Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) container terminal at Khalifa Port that is expected to boost trade with China and support China’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative.

The new terminal, which includes the largest container freight station in the Middle East, is the result of a 35-year agreement between Abu Dhabi Ports and Cosco Shipping Ports Ltd, a subsidiary of Cosco Shipping Corporation Limited of China.

The new container terminal has a capacity of 2.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and can accommodate mega vessels carrying in excess of 20,000 TEUs. Cosco has spent Dh1.1 billion on construction and machinery at the terminal, according to a statement from Abu Dhabi Ports and Cosco Shipping Ports Limited.

The terminal was inaugurated at a ceremony at Khalifa Port by Shaikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court.

The event was also attended by Shaikh Theyab Bin Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Transport, Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Jianzhong, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Transport of China, among others.

In a statement, Shaikh Hamed emphasised the cordial and productive relations that have developed between the UAE and China over the past 34 years.

“China and the UAE share a strong and long-standing bond across a variety of ties, including economic, cultural, and trade and investment, and a common vision of a stable and prosperous future for our peoples and the world. We look forward to nurturing our partnership in a spirit of friendly cooperation.”

Dr Al Jaber said the opening of the new terminal further strengthens relationship between the two.

“The expansion of Khalifa Port in partnership with CSP will further enhance the UAE’s role as an important trading link between East and West, promote our country’s economic diversification and contribute to the global connectivity of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”

China is the UAE’s largest non-oil trade partner. In 2017, bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 15 per cent to more than $53 billion (Dh195 billion), representing 14.7 per cent of the UAE’s total foreign trade.

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.