DP World wins another ruling in battle over Djibouti port

Djibouti men and women dance during the opening ceremony of Dubai-based port operator DP World's Doraleh container terminal in Djibouti port, Feb. 7, 2009. DP World said Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, that it has won another ruling in a longstanding legal battle over the operation of a strategic port in the African nation of Djibouti. DP World said an appeals court in Hong Kong agreed with its request to keep its lawsuit against China Merchants Port Holdings in Hong Kong courts, where that company is based, rather than transfer it to Djibouti. (AP Photo/Adam Schreck, File) (Adam Schreck, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DUBAI – Dubai-based shipping giant DP World said Tuesday it has won another ruling in a longstanding legal battle over the operation of a strategic port in the African nation of Djibouti.

Dubai-based DP World said an appeals court in Hong Kong agreed with its request to keep its lawsuit against China Merchants Port Holdings in Hong Kong courts, where that company is based, rather than transfer it to Djibouti.

DP World accuses China Merchants of successfully pressuring Djibouti's government to expel DP World from the country and hand over the Doraleh Container Terminal to the Hong Kong-based firm. It also accuses China Merchants of operating other ports and free zones in violation of DP World's exclusivity rights.

China Merchants did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DP World is seeking billions of dollars in damages. International courts and tribunals have already awarded it some $686.5 million in damages, and the 2006 concession to operate the port remains in force, the company said.

The Doraleh Container Terminal is the largest employer and biggest source of revenue in Djibouti, and has operated at a profit every year since it opened, according to DP World.

Djibouti seized the container terminal after DP World created another corridor for imports to landlocked Ethiopia in Somaliland, endangering Djibouti’s near-monopoly on Ethiopia’s imports.

Djibouti’s port alone accounts for 95% of Ethiopia’s imports. With a population of 110 million people, Ethiopia is the largest economy in the Horn of Africa.

DP World, which is majority-owned by the Dubai government in the United Arab Emirates, operates nearly 80 marine and inland terminals around the world.