China’s Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) on 28 May inked a deal with Israeli port authorities, obtaining the right to run the new Haifa port in northern Israel for 25 years.
The Chinese firm will bring its capabilities to the port development and strengthen relations between China and Israel, said Israeli Transport and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz.
“Investing in Haifa will help strengthen relations between Shanghai port and other ports along the Maritime Silk Road and form a closer trade network between Shanghai port and ports in Europe,” Chen Xuyuan, SIPG chairman, told Xinhua News Agency.
According to the agreement, SIPG will invest around USD2 billion for building port facilities and purchasing equipment for the harbour. A 700 m-long harbour will be built during the first phase, which will eventually be extended to 1,500 m.
SIPG won the bid in late March to operate the new port in Haifa for 25 years beginning 2021. The port’s construction is under way and is expected to end by 2020. Upon completion, it will be able to handle 1.86 million teu per year, making it the largest harbour in Israel.
The new port in Haifa is expected to generate thousands of jobs in Israel after it becomes operational by 2021, according to Xinhua News Agency.
However, about 2,500 Israeli port workers went on strike on 27 and 28 May against SIPG’s Haifa port deal and the Netherlands’ Terminal Investment Limited (TIL)’s Ashdod port deal. The workers claimed that the new foreign-run ports will hurt their livelihood, accusing the transport minister and the Israeli government of violating their rights and refusing to negotiate with them.
The strike delayed the unloading of more than 10 ships at Haifa port and more than 20 at Ashdod port.