Delivered on March 31st 2015, the CMA CGM KERGUELEN – the Group’s largest vessel – recently called for the first time the Chinese ports of Shanghai and Hong Kong. China is a strategic market for CMA CGM, where the Group has been for now more than 23 years. The group massively established itself in the country over the years, and now gathers a network of 60 agencies and over 1,600 employees. Discover the common history of CMA CGM and the Middle Kingdom.
1992: Adventure begins in China
During a business trip in 1988, 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, John Wang. 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”.
2015: CMA CGM in China
Twenty-three years later, CMA CGM is one of the leading shipping companies in China. The Group calls there more than 100 times a week, in 16 different Chinese ports, thanks to 36 lines. Today, more than 1,600 people are employed in 25 provinces. CMA CGM China’s Head Office is still in Shanghai. John Wang, who was hired 23 years ago by Jacques Saadé to set up and develop the Group’s activities there, is still at the head of CMA CGM China!