SRM is partner of the 2018 Dialogue of Continents Forum. The event is organised by the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee, in collaboration with the Hamburg Institute of International Economics. From 3 to 5 September, all five continents will be brought to Paris to exchange views about the future of the postwar global economic order in light of the numerous and profound disruptions that the world is facing today. Dialogue of Continents will examine these and other global uncertainties as a way to address the question whether we are we moving towards a more fragmented world or are instead on the verge of seeing connectivity redefined.
Massimo Deandreis, General Manager of SRM, will contribute in a leaders’ roundtable session on mayors and port authority, that will be held on September 4th (10:45-12:30). See the Agenda
Maritime trade is the lifeblood of EU-China economic relations. In 2016, 64 percent of EU-China trade in goods (in volume) was transported by sea, as against 2.06 percent by rail, 6.35 percent by road, and 27.59 percent by air. This corresponds to €315 billion. These percentages stayed stable in 2017 – maritime trade still represented 63.66 percent of the total during the first 10 months of 2017. The supremacy of maritime trade is not even threatened by new China-Europe trains. In early 2018, the cost of shipping a container by sea from Shanghai on the European route was 797 USD if the final destination is a Mediterranean port and 912 USD if the destination is further north.
Five Chinese companies are among the world’s leading port operators: Hutchison Ports (HPH), COSCO Ports, China Merchants Ports (CMP), Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), and Qingdao Port International (QGGJ). All these companies are present in the major ports along the MSR, with a marked preference for European ports, in Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Creating the conditions for continuous growth in EU-China maritime trade is in the interests of Europe, but Chinese investment in port infrastructure along the Maritime Silk Road is not without risks for recipient countries. In a positive scenario, such Chinese investment would reduce the cost of trade for all parties. But in a negative scenario, Chinese conglomerates would be in position to set prices and dictate the terms of economic exchanges to trade partners.There are also clear signs that more acquisitions in Europe are set to follow in port management
What are the implications for Europe?
Seaports have evolved from the classic role of being predominantly responsible for the reception of ships (their loading and unloading and the storage and transport of goods) to a more comprehensive entity of functional and spatial clusters of activities which are directly or indirectly linked to maritime transportation. The passenger dimension has gained substantial importance, with ports playing a key role for the provision of the relevant facilities and for enabling the passengers’ connectivity. Moreover, many ports have developed into strategic nodes for energy generation, trade, storage and distribution,
and increasingly important clusters of industry and blue economy. Ports have been constituting the main link from maritime transport to any destination in the hinterland. On top of that, some ports have been identified as critical infrastructure due to their strategic importance.
Ports are facing several challenges that have a major impact on the requirements for infrastructure investments: new trends in the maritime industry (increasing vessel sizes, increasing market power through alliances), the decarbonisation agenda, building resilience to climate change and the overall greening of vessels, digitalization and automation, increased security challenges, growing urbanisation and increasing pressure from expanding cities, as well as Brexit. There are consequently many more requirements for developing new and adapting existing port infrastructure than simply increasing capacity.