This acquisition made COSCO Shipping the world’s third-biggest container carrier, after Denmark’s Maersk Line and Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co.

“Scale is the deciding factor for the competitiveness and profitability of a shipping company,” said Zhou Dequan, Research Director of the Shanghai International Shipping Institute.

This is especially critical for container shipping, which is regarded as the bread and butter of shipping enterprises, according to Xu. COSCO’s container shipping capacity will extend to 3.1 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) by the end of this year.

By the end of March, COSCO Shipping was operating 487 container vessels with a combined capacity of 2.96 million TEUs, and its 1,285 ships’ total capacity reached 102.83 million dead weight tons. DWT is a measure of how much weight a ship can carry, not its weight, empty or in any degree of load.

The joint acquisition of Orient Overseas Container Line by COSCO Shipping and Shanghai International Port Group also suggested that collaboration between shipping enterprises and related sectors enables them to better tap business opportunities in countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Collaboration has helped create a platform for the shipping and terminal business development and transformation,” said Zhou.

Currently, COSCO Shipping is operating 174 container liner routes (1.61 million TEUs) in countries and regions related to the BRI, accounting for 58 percent of its total container capacity.

Looking ahead, COSCO Shipping is planning to be a leading logistics supplier chain service provider that is capable of taking responsibility for China’s economic globalisation.

“Shipping is closely linked to trade and economy, it is a highly competitive industry that is irreplaceable for its flexibility and capability to transport all kinds of goods,” said Xu.

Shanghai International Port Group, which operates the Port of Shanghai, is another company that has realised the benefits of collaboration with other shipping firms. The operator of “the world’s largest container port” for nine consecutive years since 2010 handled 42.01 million TEUs of containers in 2018.