Milan, Italy (PortSEurope) July 28, 2017 – The Italian financial daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore has published an article looking at Chinese state investment in the ports of Europe. The investment is part of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), an economic strategy for commercial growth, which creates a new Silk Road between the Far East and Europe. The article includes information from SRM,
a research centre of Intesa Sanpaolo, saying that China has invested in the Mediterranean ports of Haifa, Ashdod, Ambarli, Piraeus, Rotterdam, Vado Ligure, Bilbao and Valencia). There are doubts about the BRI initiative in Europe. Paolo Signorini, president of Autorita’ di Sistema Portuale del Mar Ligure Occidentale (the Port Authority of the West Ligurian Sea), which includes Genoa and Savona, has said that the EU Commission “expressed doubts about the BRI project, arguing, firstly, that the Chinese strategy must, in order to obtain EU support, be consistent with European transport infrastructure projects. Brussels also raised questions about China’s compliance with European standards in areas such as labour safety and workers’ conditions.” Signorini, fueled the suspicion that the apparent opposition to Chinese projects conceals the opposite “the will of the EU economically will more than ever dictate, once again, their political line.” Because, he argues, the BRI strategy seems to be set so that the countries of southern Europe, through their ports, become China’s entry points into the EU. China is also interested in northern Europe. In May 2016, Cosco acquired 35% of the Etr Euromax Terminal Rotterdam in the Netherlands (€125.4 million), adding to existing investments in Antwerp and Zeebrugge. It also established in Hamburg his own control centre for all intra-European services. In 2016, Cosco acquired 51% of the Piraeus Port Authority in Greece for €280.5 million Euros, which, after five years, will be added if all will go according to plans. A further investment of €88 million will bring Chinese stake to 67%. Earlier, in May 2015, the Shanghai International Port group acquired a stake in Haifa port, Israel. Also in Israel, China Harbor Engineering is building a container terminal in Ashdod. The joint venture Euro-Asia Oceanogate (which includes Cosco Pacific) acquired in September 2015, Turkey, 64.5% of Kumport terminal Ambarli. Cosco is part (20%) of the joint managing company of the Suez canal container terminal. Cosco has also acquired 51% of Spanish Noatum ports holding in June this year, including the Bilbao and Valencia container terminals. In Italy, in addition to Savona-Vado, where Cosco and Qingdao invest €70.5 million, China looks especially at the opportunities offered by Genoa and Trieste, with its newly pronounced free customs areas and rail links with central Europe. As for Italy, Zeno D’Agostino, president of Autorita’ di Sistema Portuale del Mare Adriatico Orientale (Port Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea) said, “the real challenge of the BRI is to cross the industrial needs of the Chinese world with the chances and advantages we can give with our know-how on certain manufacturing sectors, which are then those made in Italy. I am pursuing a series of interviews with non-Chinese interests, who are asking me to come to localize their own industries in Trieste port. Source: Il Sole 24 Ore Source: Il Sole 24 Ore Copyright (c) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2017.