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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

China keen to develop Brunei ports

Leo Kasim

BRUNEI’S ports and logistics sector will receive substantial investments and technology upgrades should the country agree on a joint venture project with a large Chinese state-owned ports corporation, a senior consultant of the project said.

In an interview, SQW China Limited Managing Director Gary Ho (2nd photo) said Brunei’s ports have attracted a high level of interest from the Guangxi-Beibu Gulf International Port Group Ltd which is “ready to move” ahead with the project. This is expected to develop the sultanate’s ports sector into a regional logistics hub.

“This is an opportunity for Brunei to help finance the project (for ports upgrade) which requires investment and capital expenditure. Guangxi-Beibu Gulf International Port Group Ltd is already expressing interest in a stake for Brunei’s ports,” he told The Brunei Times.

The Guangxi-Beibu group has extensive experience in ports management and shipping logistics. In 2013, the company invested US$100 million to acquire a 40 per cent stake of Kuantan Port Consortium Sdn Bhd and co-manage one of Malaysia’s key shipping ports.

Previously, Peng Qinghua, Secretary of the Communist Party of China’s Guangxi Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of Guangxi People’s Congress, proposed a cooperative model for the Muara port to be run by the Brunei government and the Guangxi Beibu Gulf Group.

Muara port’s container throughput would also increase from 220,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to one million TEUs by the year 2021, he said at that time.

Ho said the group’s involvement will be a timely one for Muara ports and a boon for Brunei’s port operations.

In November 2014, the now former Minister of Communications Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Abdullah Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar said the ports sector needs to be “unshackled”.

Plans to corporatise Brunei’s Ports Department had also been on the agenda for a few years with no firm timeline, Pehin Dato Hj Abdullah previously said.

Ho said the Ministry of Communications signed a letter of intent with the Guangxi-Beibu group in September, attracting the attention of Chinese government officials.

He said the project will fall under China’s One Belt, One Road initiative which aims to improve its trading links by connecting the country with Western Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Sumber - The Brunei Times

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