Trade Hub

April 01, 2010 (LBO) – Chinese port operator China Merchants Holdings (International) has said it expects a breakthrough in talks to build a new container terminal in Sri Lanka’s Colombo harbour this year. The company, in partnership with Sri Lankan conglomerate Aitken Spence, was the sole bidder for the first container terminal to be built in a new port coming up next to Colombo’s existing harbour.

Talks have been stalled for months over the terms of the deal with the delay worrying Sri Lanka’s shipping community as the project, needed to maintain Colombo’s status as a transshipment hub, is already years behind schedule.

China Merchants Holdings (International) (CMHI) said in statements accompanying its results for 2009 that although the global trade slowdown has slowed its own port investments, it was going ahead with two, one in Sri Lanka and the other in Vietnam.

The group is “still on course for negotiation of certain overseas projects as scheduled,” it said on Wednesday in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing.

“The container terminal projects in Vung tau, Vietnam and Colombo, Sri Lanka in which the group has been planning to invest have evidenced a number of key negotiation milestones