Egypt eyes Asian investment for a new container terminal in Port Said at the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal, writes Nikkei Asian Review. The talks go on with Singapore’s PSA International but offers from other players such as China’s COSCO Shipping Ports are also considered.
Mohamed Youssef, head of the Holding Company for Maritime and Land Transport, an affiliate of Egypt’s Ministry of Business Sector, has confirmed that the negotiations with PSA to build and manage a container terminal in East Port Said “are on track”, thus dismissing recent media reports of a breakdown in negotiations. “PSA International is conducting technical, commercial and economic feasibility studies,” he said.
This was also acknowledged by Mohab Mamish, head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA): “We are awaiting a final masterplan of a new pier at East Port Said Port from Singapore’s PSA. The General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone (GASCEZ) is currently handling the negotiations efficiently with PSA.”
Some news appeared in early March saying that Egypt had frozen negotiations with PSA due to disagreements over the contract and begun looking at other management offers, including one from COSCO Shipping Ports.
In November 2015, SCA and PSA signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a study on the construction and management of a new container terminal at East Port Said, as part of Egypt’s ambitious Suez Canal redevelopment. In 2016, Ahmed Darwish, Chairman of GASCEZ, and Wan Chee Foong, Head of Business Development at PSA International, held a number of meetings to this end.
Currently Egyptian ports handle 6.5 mln TEU annually, with a capacity of 11 mln TEU, according to Transport Ministry data. The only container terminal at East Port Said today is Suez Canal Container Terminal, whose major shareholders are APM Terminals (55%), Cosco (20%) and the Suez Canal Authority (10.3%). Its capacity is 5.5 mln TEUs annually.
A PSA International spokesperson contacted by Nikkei Asian Review, made it clear that his company “is keen to explore port development opportunities in Egypt” and discussions are “ongoing.”
To PSA, the East Port Said development would mean a further expansion to the Middle East market. Today PSA operates Dammam Port on Saudi Arabia’s Persian Gulf coast and Mersin International Port on the Mediterranean in Turkey.