1992: Adventure begins in China
Jacques Saadé foresees that China will soon be the locomotive driving the world’s economy. He knows CMA needs to have a base there now to prepare for the future, even though at the time it was difficult for a foreign company to establish itself in the country.
Others would have recruited businessmen or managers from their own culture, but not Jacques Saadé. To set up the Group’s first commercial agency in China, in Shanghai, he chooses a Chinese professor from the maritime university.
Why? Because this man has taught the best shipping experts – so as CMA grows he can recruit them and thereby maintain a leading edge.
The Group expands rapidly. Agency set-ups multiply. Initially concentrated on the coast, agencies are opened further inland. This is in line with China’s industrial policy to curb the rural exodus and re-industrialize the country’s central region.
In 2001, China joins the World Trade Organization, triggering a boom in exports and imports. China is driving global growth. Due to its strong presence, CMA CGM sees its volumes grow very rapidly. The Group is even nicknamed Da Fei by its customers, meaning “he who forges ahead”.
2013: CMA CGM in China
Twenty-one years later, CMA CGM is one of the leading shipping companies in China. The Group has 64 offices and over 1,800 employees there. A vessel calls every 6 hours. It is N°1 in the Asia-Mediterranean segment and N°2 on the Asia-North Europe trade.
CMA CGM China’s Head Office is still in Shanghai. John Wang, who was hired 21 years ago by Jacques Saadé to set up and develop the Group’s activities there, is still at the head of CMA CGM China!