Red chip Cosco Pacific plans to boost its stakes in leading mainland ports to capitalise on an expected increase in trade after the nation joins the World Trade Organisation. Vice-chairman Dong Jiufeng said the company had held talks with Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing about investing in the second and third phases of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Container Terminal. 'The WTO entry and the granting of [permanent normal trade relations by the United States] should enhance global trade, which can benefit our business,' Mr Dong said. The container-leasing and terminal-operation concern has been strengthening its mainland terminal portfolio in anticipation of the normalisation of Beijing's trade relations with the US and its entry to the WTO. Cosco Pacific signed a contract last March to build the first phase of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Container Terminal with city authorities and other conglomerates. The project, which calls for investment of three billion yuan (about HK$2.8 billion), is held 20 per cent by Cosco Pacific, 40 per cent by the Shanghai Port Authority, 30 per cent by Hutchison Whampoa and 10 per cent by Shanghai Industrial Holdings. The new terminal will add an annual throughput capacity of 1.2 million standard containers, or 20-foot equivalent units, to Shanghai's port when the first phase of the project is completed. Managing director Shi Qin said Cosco Pacific would concentrate on improving terminal services at the mainland's main ports, including Shanghai, Dalian, Qingdao, Zhangjiagang and Yantian port of Shenzhen. He said Cosco would also make use of information technology to enhance terminal and container-leasing services. Cosco Pacific's ultimate parent, China Ocean Shipping Group, earlier this month launched a logistics and e-commerce information network and signed a memorandum of understanding with Hutchison's e-commerce unit Portsnportals.com to provide logistics solutions and transport services via an on-line open-transport exchange. Cosco Pacific last month succeeded in raising US$140 million through a two-year term commercial paper facility for refinancing purposes.