Shanghai International Port's (SIPG) joint venture with Belgium container terminal Zeebrugge has begun operations, a senior Chinese executive said on Saturday, following a delay during an industry downturn.

The project had been postponed previously, but the venture is already up and running now, SIPG president Chen Wuyuan told Reuters on the sidelines of China's National People's Congress.

SIPG signed a framework agreement in late 2006 to buy 40 percent of a container terminal in Zeebrugge, Belgium, which was built by APM Terminals, part of A.P. Moeller-Maersk Group (MAERSKb.CO). But the project was postponed amid a global industry downturn.

SIPG's container volume rose 16.3 precent in 2010 to 29.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU).

Net earnings jumped 43.6 percent to 5.4 billion yuan, according to unaudited data released by the company.

Chen declined to make projections for 2011.