Hutchison Port Holdings, part of the Hong Kong conglomerate Cheung Kong Group, will invest US$1.2 billion in a new port in Ensenada over the next ten years. According to an article in the Tijuana newspaper Frontera the port would be similar to the one in Long Beach, California and would be the primary port of the Asian Pacific.
Three Ensenada locations are currently being considered for the port, said Deputy Antonio Rodríguez Hernández, the president of the Baja California House of Deputies’ Commission for Economic Development and Port Affairs (Comisión de Desarrollo Económico y Asuntos Portuarios de la Cámara de Diputados). The locations are Punta China, Bocana de Santo Tomás and Punta Colonet.
The port will also require other investments to link it to surrounding areas, Rodríguez stated. A railroad would connect Mexicali with Yuma, Arizona and a new highway would join Punta Colonet with Ensenada and Tecate.
Rodríguez noted that the state legislature has important work to do to make sure that the environment is protected. He also said that the legislature must create the conditions to guarantee that the investment is profitable.
According to Rodríguez, a port is needed that can handle between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 containers per year. When this level of activity is compared to that at the Port of Long Beach it does not seem that Ensenada’s new venture would necessarily unseat Long Beach in terms of its importance to US-Asia trade. The Port of Long Beach moved 4.6 million container units in 2003 according to its web site. It also describes itself as the second busiest port in the US and as the “world’s 12th busiest container cargo port.”
Currently, the Ensenada port can handle 100,000 containers a year although it averages 60,000 per year. Dredging operations that will begin in December 2004 will allow fifth-generation boats to dock at the port. This will increase capacity to 250,000 containers per year.
Other Projects: The Wine Corridor and the Escalera Náutica
Rodríguez spoke to Frontera about other developments in the region including the creation of a “Wine Corridor” between Ensenada and Valle de Gua-dalupe. The project includes 50 million pesos (approximately US$4.4 million) for a highway that will allow more tourists to reach the region.
The “Escalera Náutica” (Nautical Stairway), a plan to develop ports, hotels and golf courses around the Gulf of California, is also ready to get underway, Rodríguez stated. In all the Escalera will involve 700 million pesos of investment, he said.
One Escalera project that is about to begin is the widening of the highway between Bahía de los Ángeles and Santa Rosalita which will allow for the transfer of yachts between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, Rodríguez said.