Sydney port marketers court Chinese support
‘ The reception has been very positive’
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.