Germany Considers Cosco’s Hamburg Terminal Purchase


Germany Is Reviewing If Cosco Can Buy Hamburg Terminal Stake, states a Yahoo Finance news source.

Germany is revisiting a contentious decision

Germany is revisiting a contentious decision to allow Chinese state-owned conglomerate Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. to buy a 24.9% stake in one of Hamburg’s port terminals after a government agency reclassified the port terminal as critical infrastructure.

The move comes as Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock are working on a new China strategy in which Berlin is expected to adopt a more critical stance on China following Beijing’s increasingly militaristic threats against Taiwan.

The investigation into Cosco’s planned investment in the Hamburg port terminal Tollerort is ongoing and Berlin’s final approval of the transaction is still pending, Economy Ministry spokeswoman Beate Baron told reporters at a regular government briefing in Berlin.

Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the HHLA port operator confirmed media reports that the BSI government agency changed the status of the port terminal to critical infrastructure at the beginning of this year following new legislation passed by Scholz’s ruling coalition in December.

Government could still block the Cosco plan

“Since the circumstances have changed, we as the Economy Ministry are examining the consequences,” Baron said. Asked if this means that the government could still block the Cosco plan, the ministry spokeswoman added that she could not speculate about the outcome of the review. She gave no hint if and when Berlin might approve the investment.

China hoped Germany would “provide a fair, just and nondiscriminatory environment” for its firms, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Thursday at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

“We hope the German side will refrain from politicizing commercial cooperation and making it something about ideology or security, and setting barriers to such cooperation,” he said.

Read more: Hamburg Port to Sell Stake to China’s Cosco After Scholz’s Push

Baerbock is traveling to Beijing for political talks later this week in which she will address the security situation in the strait of Taiwan, human rights in China and Beijing’s role in the global fight against climate change, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse told the same briefing.

“We are very concerned about the situation in the strait of Taiwan. We expect from all actors in the region to contribute to stability and peace, and this also applies to China. We have the impression that measures such as military threats run counter to this goal and rather increase the risk of unintended military clashes,” Sasse added.

Scholz has warned China ahead of a trip to Tokyo last month that Beijing may not change Taiwan’s status by force.

China has pledged to bring Taiwan under its control someday, by force if necessary, while Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party asserts Taiwan is an independent nation.

Port Compromise

The German government had initially agreed on a compromise which would have allowed the Chinese state-owned shipping conglomerate Cosco to buy a 24.9% stake in one of Hamburg’s port terminals.

The stake would be just shy of what’s considered a blocking minority in Germany. This decision prevents a strategic investment in one of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG’s terminals and reduces the acquisition to a purely financial investment, the economy ministry said in a statement back then.

The coalition deal reached in October was seen as a face-saving solution for Scholz, who had initially supported the sale of a 35% stake to Cosco. But several ministers, including Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Finance Minister Christian Lindner had voiced their opposition to a bigger stake.

A spokesperson for HHLA said under the planned investment, Cosco would not gain any access or decision-making rights when it comes to the operational management of the terminal, all customer relationships and also the IT systems.

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Source: Yahoo Finance