The Port Authority of Rijeka, the operator of Croatia’s largest port and second largest economic center in the country, is expected to select a new operator for the port’s Zagreb deep sea terminal by September 9. One of the two bidders on the contract is reportedly a Chinese consortium comprised of three state-owned firms including, Ningbo Zhoushan Port, Tianjin Port Overseas, and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). If the Chinese consortium wins the bid over the other expected bidder, a consortium of two European companies (comprised of APM Terminal BVm and Enna Logic), the prize is a 50-year concession contract for development and management of the facility.
The geographic position of Port of Rijeka will offer the eventual operator considerable strategic and market access to countries in central and southeastern Europe. According to Croatian authorities, the terminal will also be connected to major highways in Croatia. The Chinese bid for the Port of Rijeka feeds into a pattern of Chinese economic activity in Europe that has concentrated on the continent’s critical transport infrastructure (including pursuit of contracts to build or enhance new capacity).
As part of the bid, the Chinese consortium has reportedly offered to pay $2.4 million in annual concession fees, alongside a commitment to complete the second phase of the project within the next five years. Conversely, the European consortium has reportedly offered half that amount, $1.2 million in annual concession fees, with a more prolonged 10-year terminal development schedule.
The second phase of the project expected to be developed by the contract winner consists of constructing additional terminal infrastructure, including railway links, warehouses, etc. The first phase was financed and completed with funding from the European Commission and World Bank.