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China's COSCO bid big win for Hamburg port, says CEO

Photo taken on Feb. 23, 2018 shows a view of the port area of Hamburg, Germany. (Xinhua/Shan Yuqi)

HHLA, the logistics company of the Port of Hamburg, agreed in September 2021 to sell a 35 percent minority stake in Hamburg's Tollerort terminal to COSCO Shipping Ports Limited.

HAMBURG, Germany, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- A bid from China's shipping giant COSCO to buy a stake in a container operator at the port of Hamburg is a big win instead of a threat, Axel Mattern, chief executive officer (CEO) of Port of Hamburg Marketing, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Obviously, about one third of cargo handled at the Port of Hamburg come from and go to China. The importance of business with China has a long history," he said.

COSCO has been a client of the port for decades.

The bid "was a pure business decision, which is very usual not only in Germany but also in other European countries," he said.

The port's logistics company HHLA agreed in September 2021 to sell a 35 percent minority stake in Hamburg's Tollerort terminal to COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (CSPL).

A container ship of China's COSCO Shipping docks at a new container terminal of the Port of Long Beach in California, the United States, Aug. 20, 2021. (Xinhua/Gao Shan)

Germany's Economy Minister Robert Habeck said recently that he was inclined not to allow the deal, which he argued would give China a stake in critical German infrastructure.

"We want to do business, not politics," Mattern said, adding that the government's "strategic planning and port shares are totally different things."

He also warned that turning down the Chinese offer would be a disaster not only for the port but also for Germany.

"We need and have so far had good relations with the Chinese side in trade, transportation and logistics, which helps both sides understand and learn from each other better," Mattern said.

Aerial photo taken on Oct. 13, 2021 shows the container ship Libra of China's COSCO Shipping at Shanghai Yangshan Port, east China. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

Trade and transportation are very complex ventures, he recalled. All countries of the world, including China, the U.S. and Germany, are part of the supply chain.

"The logistics cooperation between Hamburg and China is very important, not only for the two countries but also for the global supply chain," Mattern said. ■