World News – March 2019
Palermo, Sicily, Italy (PortSEurope) March 14, 2019 – Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Italy March 22-23, and after Rome will visit the Sicilian port and city of Palermo.
Palermo port, part of Autorita’ di Sistema Portuale del Mare di Sicilia Occidentale (AdSP – Western Sicilian Sea Port Authority), is located in the northwest of the island of Sicily, on the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. It handles cargo, cruise ships and is the location of a Fincantieri SpA shipyard.
Palermo-based Istmo srl has been working on a plan which detailed how investment could increase the port’s handling capacity from a current level of around 10,000 TEU to 16 million TEU, which is higher than Rotterdam’s current TEU traffic. An estimated €5 billion ($5.67 billion) investment would be required.
It has been reported that a delegation of Chinese officials met with Eurispes (Istituto di Studi Politici, Economici e Sociali), an institute of political, economic and social studies, to discuss the project, which could become a hub on the new Silk Road.
The new Silk Road (One Belt, One Road) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities.
The development would come at a good time for Palermo and Sicily, but would also raise further concerns about Chinese investment in European transport facilities.Officials in Brussels and Washington have indicated growing concern about China’s investment in European transport facilities, particularly in the seaports and logistics sectors.
China’s COSCO Shipping Ports Limited manages Piraeus Port Authority SA (PPA) in Greece, and despite increased traffic and profitability, there are concerns about the level of investments in activities not directly related to traditional port activities, such as hotels and retail facilities, and the effects on local businesses.
Last month, PPA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Italian port authority that manages the ports of Venice and Chioggia. Also, Genoa port is expected to sign a memorandum for the establishment of a joint venture with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) on March 23.
This comes at a time when the European Union (EU) has proposed new investment screening measures for foreign state-owned companies that want to purchase interests in European harbours.
Since the start of the 21st century, Chinese companies have acquired stakes in some 15 ports in Europe, that handle more than 10% of shipping containers traffic to and from the Old Continent, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The state owned COSCO Shipping Ports and China Merchants Port Holdings have acquired stakes in: Port Said, Egypt; Casablanca and Tangier, Morocco; Marsaxlokk, Malta; Istanbul, Turkey; Piraeus, Greece; Bilbao and Valencia, Spain; Marseille, Nantes, Le Havre and Dunkirk, all France; Antwerp and Bruges, both Belgium, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Chinese companies have participated in the construction and operation of 42 ports in 34 countries under its Belt and Road initiative launched in 2013. China has also signed 38 bilateral and regional maritime agreements covering 47 countries along the Belt and Road trade routes. The key strategy of COSCO and other Chinese companies is to invest in smaller European seaports and then try to develop them.
Vienna, Austria (PortSEurope) March 15, 2019 – Shippers using Venice port to unload goods destined for Europe are set to benefit from a new rail cargo service being operated by the ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG).
Austria’s RCG will operate a three-weekly non-stop service between the Italian northern Adriatic port of Venice and the bimodal terminal in Duisburg using the TransFER Duisburg–Venice service.
Venice is keen to develop its role as an international cargo hub, providing shippers with fast, efficient rail cargo service into the heart of Europe via Duisburg. This is relevant not only for Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Turkey which have feeder services between their ports and Venice, but also for shipping companies being goods from the Far East, especially China.
Venice would like to develop a role in the new Silk Road. The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities, and cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road road.
Rail Cargo Group operates a comprehensive end-to-end logistics network, linking European conurbations and ports with economic centres on the Eurasian continent.
Source: Rail Cargo Group
Vienna, Austria (PortSEurope) March 19, 2019 – The ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) has signed two two memoranda of understanding (MoU) were signed to increase business with the Italian Northern Adriatic port of Trieste.
Firstly, an agreement was signed with Zeno D’Agostino, President of Autorita’ di Sistema Portuale del Mare Adriatico Orientale (AdSP – Eastern Adriatic Sea Port Authority) to develop new transport routes; and secondly an agreement to cooperate with Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, the state-owned railway company, on enhanced cooperation on infrastructure issues.
The free port of Trieste is a central logistics hub for the economy of Italy and Austria – as well as for the entire Central and Southern European region and, moreover, an important access to the maritime Silk Road.
Trieste has been active in seeking to increase its share of cargo carried along the new Silk Road. The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy to seek better access for Chinese-made products in European markets, which includes acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities, and cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road routes.
In March 2019, the port hosted a “China-Italy Business Relationship” round table, an event designed to review economic-commercial relations between the two countries. The event was organized by Fondazione Italia Cina (Italy-China Foundation), la Camera di Commercio Italo-Cinese (Italian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and Costa Crociere, the cruise ship company.
Deputy transport minister Edoardo Rixi visited the region in February 2019 to promote Trieste and Monfalcone ports’ potential in the handling more Chinese transt goods.
Currently, RCG offers the full range of transport services with regular connections to a total of seven routes. More than 3,300 RCG trains are handled each year from and to the port alone in Italy. From March and April, additional networking will now take place: once a week with the TransFER Wolfurt-Trieste in the round-trip once a week and once a week in the TRANSFER Trieste-Vienna-Linz-Trieste.
With 8,700 employees, branches throughout Europe and an annual turnover of €2.2 billion, the Rail Cargo Group is one of the leading rail logistics companies in Europe. The operating controlling company of the Rail Cargo Group is Rail Cargo Austria AG.