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Chinese footprint in the EU growing

Chinese shipping groups that also manage container terminals are increasing their presence in Europe. Chinese companies made investments in 31 ports in Europe and the Mediterranean at the end of August.

According to Alhpaliner, Chinese mobility reflects the increased activity of China’s state-owned entities in the European port network from 2016 onwards, although in most cases Chinese companies have minority stakes.

The debate over Chinese investment in Europe’s transport infrastructure has reignited this year following COSCO Shipping Port’s (COSCOSP) much-discussed bid to buy a minority stake in Hamburg’s smallest container terminal, the Tollerort Terminal (CTT). Ultimately Cosco acquired a 24.99% stake.

Following Tollerort, COSCO has a presence in eleven terminals in seven European countries, with Piraeus playing a leading role. Overall, it has a presence in Greece, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey.

The acceleration of its activity in Europe from 2016 onwards is reflected in COSCO’s financial results. According to analysts, the group made 176 million dollars or 32% of total revenue from European operations in 2016, the year it bought a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (PPA). By 2022, this amount had grown to 682 million dollars or 47% of total port revenue.

In addition to the eleven terminals of COSCO SP, the also state-owned company China Merchants Port Holdings owns investments in nine terminals, with a greater emphasis on the ports of Southern Europe (Greece – OLTH, France, Malta, Turkey and the Netherlands).