Nikkei / Egyptian authorities are seeking Asian investment for a new cargo terminal at Port Said at the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal. They have been in talks with Singapore’s PSA, but are considering possible offers from COSCO Shipping Ports, among others.
“We are awaiting a final masterplan of a new pier at East Port Said Port from Singapore’s PSA,” Suez Canal Authority Chairman Mohab Mamish told reporters in Suez on March 16. “The General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone is currently handling the negotiations efficiently with PSA.”
Mohamed Youssef, head of Egypt’s Holding Co. for Maritime and Land Transport, said the talks with PSA International “are on track,” dismissing media reports of a breakdown in negotiations. “PSA International is conducting technical, commercial and economic feasibility studies,” he said.
Analysts say a depreciated currency bodes well for Egypt’s investment climate in general. The new cargo terminal was estimated to cost 6 billion Egyptian pounds before the government floated the currency in November, equivalent to $675 million then, in a move to placate the International Monetary Fund from whom it was seeking a $12 billion three-year loan.
Since the currency float, the greenback has surged from 8.88 pounds to above 18 pounds and consequently, the cost of the cargo terminal has now more than halved to $330.7 million.
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. Egyptian officials said the planned 2,000 sq. m. cargo terminal would have a 20-meter draft.
In November 2015, SCA and PSA signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a study on the construction and management of a cargo terminal at East Port Said Port, as part of Egypt’s ambitious Suez Canal redevelopment.
A PSA International spokesperson made it clear that his company “is keen to explore port development opportunities in Egypt” and discussions are “ongoing.” When contacted by Nikkei Asian Review, the spokesperson said that there is “no change” in its current position.
To Singapore government-owned PSA, the expansion of its global port network has been a core growth strategy since its maiden overseas foray into Dalian, China, in 1996. Today it has stakes in around 40 terminals in 16 countries.