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Antwerp Strikes Belt And Road Deal With Chinese Port
Kinghood International Logistics Inc | Updated: Jun 07, 2017

The Antwerp Port Authority has signed a collaboration agreement with the Chinese port of Caofeidian as part of its bid to capitalize on Beijing’s Belt and Road project.

  The agreement calls for an investigation into the possibility of establishing a rail connection between the two ports, whose sea link will also be improved with the launch of a regular liner shipping service. The focus on rail is another testament to the burgeoning China-Europe rail trade, which has seen services multiply as demand increases for the third way between expensive but fast air cargo, and inexpensive but slower sea transport.

  Caofeidian “is a very young but also a very dynamic port,” the Antwerp Port Authority said.

The Chinese port, which is situated in Bohai Bay, 125 miles east of Beijing, handled 260 million tonnes of cargo last year, including 36 million tonnes of steel, a major target for Antwerp, which is Europe’s leading steel port.  Situated in the Bohai Rim, Caofeidian competes with Top 10 Chinese ports such as Tianjin and Dalian.

 The steel trade between the two ports amounts to between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes a year.

  Antwerp’s steel traffic surged almost 15 percent in the first quarter to 2.1 million tonnes, boosting its conventional breakbulk volume by 8.6 percent to 2.6 million tonnes.

  The agreement also provides for port workers from Caofeidian to attend a training course later this year at Antwerp’s maritime training institute.

  The Antwerp Port Authority set up a task force to exploit opportunities from the Belt and Road project in July 2015 and signed a twinning agreement with Guangzhou, China’s fifth-largest port, in the following December.

  The Belt and Road project was launched in 2013 to boost transport and trade links between China, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

  Even as it seeks to boost its links with China, Antwerp has expressed concern over investments by Chinese companies in southern European ports that could lure cargo from the Le Havre-Hamburg port range.

  The port’s recently retired chief executive Eddy Bruyninckx in January 2016 called for its main rival Rotterdam to join forces to confront the Chinese challenge by developing joint storage facilities for cargo heading from Asia to central and eastern Europe.

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