Chinese investor announces $3bn Ukrainian port project

December 06, 2013 - 6:26:52 am

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange documents during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing yesterday. Deals signed with China may bring Ukraine about $8bn in investments, Yanukovych said.
BEIJING/KIEV: Wang Jing, a little known Chinese investor who has a concession to build a waterway in Nicaragua to rival the Panama Canal, announced he was also spearheading a $3bn project to build a deepwater port in Ukraine.

“The strategic and cooperative partnership between China and Ukraine has moved a step forward,” Wang said at a press conference in Beijing yesterday. “Even though this project is relatively big, you can say we fell in love at first sight.”

A senior Ukrainian official told Reuters, however, that she had not heard about the project. “I can say that such project did not pass through our ministry,” she said.

The 300 hectare port project is to be located about 60km north of Sevastopol on the Black Sea. Wang unveiled it at the same time that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was visiting China’s capital.

A memorandum of understanding was signed earlier in the day between Wang’s Beijing Interoceanic Canal Investment Management Co and Kievgidroinvest, a little known hydrogeology research firm registered in Sevastopol, which does not have a website.

China and Ukraine signed several agreements on airlines, new energy sources, coal and travel during Yanukovych’s visit. No details or figures were provided.

Yanukovych is under pressure at home to show the success of his economic strategy amid public protests against his worsening relationship with the European Union. 

“In this very difficult situation it is very important for Yanukovych to conclude large scale projects,” said Volodymyr Fesenko of Ukraine’s Penta think-tank. “The implementation of these projects will depend on how the political crisis is resolved,” he said.

The port project, to be built on a dried-out lake on the Crimean coast, would require a $3bn investment in its first phase, Wang said, providing few further details. Ukraine already operates more than a dozen big ports.

Wang, who says his initial wealth came from a gold mine investment in Cambodia, grabbed headlines earlier this year when Nicaragua’s Congress granted his Cayman Islands-registered company a 50-year concession to develop a $40bn canal.  

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