Syd­ney port mar­keters court Chi­nese sup­port

‘ The re­cep­tion has been very pos­i­tive’

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

The con­sul­tants work­ing to put to­gether a con­sor­tium to over­see port de­vel­op­ment in Syd­ney are cur­rently meet­ing with busi­ness in­ter­ests in China.

Har­bor Port De­vel­op­ment Part­ners — com­prised of Barry Sheehy and Al­bert Bar­busci — are in the midst of a two-week trip to Asia and will re­turn to Canada this week­end, Bar­busci said in a phone in­ter­view Mon­day. Last week, the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity an­nounced that it had of­fi­cially en­tered into an ex­clu­siv­ity agree­ment with the part­ners af­ter coun­cil ap­proved the ar­range­ment in June.

So far, they’ve met with about a dozen com­pa­nies, with a few more meet­ings planned.

“We are now on our tour, meet­ing with ship­ping al­liances and ter­mi­nal op­er­a­tors, com­pa­nies — ba­si­cally to put the con­sor­tium to­gether, that’s our fo­cus,” he said.

It’s some­thing that will take time, Bar­busci said, but he added they re­main op­ti­mistic that they will be suc­cess­ful. He said the China meet­ings have gone well.

“The re­cep­tion has been very pos­i­tive,” he said. “We be­lieve that we are able to build the next gen­er­a­tion, state-of-the-art, highly au­to­mated con­tainer port that would be suit­able for the new triple-E ves­sels.”

Triple- E ves­sels are the largest ships ever built by cargo vol­ume.

Bar­busci and Sheehy have been work­ing with the CBRM for 16 months, in­vest­ing $ 1.2 mil­lion of their own cap­i­tal into port de­vel­op­ment. With a for­mal con­tract in place, the pair will con­tinue to pay for their mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Mon­day saw an 8.5 per­cent­age point fall on the Shang­hai mar­ket, the big­gest one- day de­cline since Fe­bru­ary 2007. It was only the most re­cent large de­crease in the Chi­nese stock mar­ket, which has slumped since June.

Bar­busci said he doesn’t ex­pect the cur­rent un­cer­tainty in the Chi­nese mar­ket will af­fect their ef­forts, a ques­tion that has been raised by some crit­ics of Syd­ney port de­vel­op­ment work.

“For ex­port pur­poses, it’s a cy­cle. They’re not in their dou­ble- digit growth any­more, they’re still grow­ing at six or seven per cent — that’s still an im­pres­sive fig­ure con­sid­er­ing where North Amer­i­can growth is at to­day,” Bar­busci said. “As a mat­ter of fact, there are pleny of in­vest­ment dol­lars and the Chi­nese are ac­tu­ally look­ing for in­vest­ment op­por- tu­ni­ties.

In a re­cent up­date, Sheehy noted that a lot de­pends on the rail­way and on­go­ing talks with CN Rail. Cur­rent rail op­er­a­tor, Ge­ne­see & Wy­oming Inc., is pre­par­ing to aban­don the line in Cape Bre­ton. Un­der rules set out by the Nova Sco­tia Util­ity and Re­view Board, the aban­don­ment process can­not be­gin un­til Oc­to­ber and won’t be com­pleted un­til the spring. Rail in­fra­struc­ture is the linch­pin be­cause it’s what ship­ping com­pa­nies want se­cured be­fore mak­ing a deal.


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