To control one of the world’s busiest trade loops and ease the movement of Chinese goods, Chinese state-run shipping companies – like Cosco Group and China Merchant Holdings International – are investing billions of dollars in ports worldwide.
According to research by Theo Notteboom, a professor of port economics at universities in China and Belgium, Cosco, China Merchant, and China Overseas Port Holding have spent more than $US4 billion since 2010 for interests in 21 of the top 50 container ports. This investment is on top of an estimated $US40 billion China has invested into ports along its coastline,
China's Maritime Silk Road is part of the One Belt, One Road, a US$4 trillion ($5.3 trillion) project to connect China and Europe by land and sea. Ports on the route, running from Asia through the Suez Canal to Europe, would give priority to Chinese vessels. Beijing will host a summit in mid-May on the Silk Road initiative with 20 leaders from Asia, Europe and Africa. Invitees include Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
International shipping lines have been adding more port investments to position themselves ahead of an expected recovery in container freight rates, which for years have been below break-even levels.