China will remain the engine for world economic growth for the foreseeable future and Europe will increasingly rely on both trade and direct investment from the world’s second largest economy for its long-term prosperity
While no-one is certain how China’s Belt and Road Initiative will develop across Europe, it is clear there are tremendous opportunities for European companies involved in the initiative, but many of these opportunities will rely on significant investment in infrastructure.
These were a few of the conclusions reached by the team of senior Contship Italia managers who completed a roadshow of six major ports in Asia during October.
The team was led by marketing and communications director Daniele Testi and sales and business development director Peter Hill as well as managers Paolo Califano and Peter Robino.
They held a series of events, meetings and discussions with representatives from leading logistics and forwarding companies in the Asia Pacific region.
It was the third year that Contship has undertaken this tour of leading ports and cargo markets in Asia with the aim of explaining the Southern Gateway Alternative.
As supply chains tighten and become more efficient, many Asian shippers, forwarders and beneficial cargo owners are seeking alternative ways to get their cargo in and out of Europe and Asia in time and cost-effective ways.
Contship Italia hosted four sessions and a series of presentation meetings with senior managers from logistics and forwarder companies in the Chinese ports of Tianjin, Qingdao and Ningbo before finishing with a seminar and panel discussion in Singapore. In between there was time for a round of meetings in Beijing and Hong Kong.
As trade between China and Europe grows, the emphasis on smooth and seamless supply chain management facilitated by infrastructure investment in ports, terminals, railways and roads was a common theme during the dialogue sessions.
One significant message from the China logistics professionals that Contship Italia took home is that 3PL and 4PL companies increasingly see the transport part of the delivery chain as linked to the Belt and Road Initiative.
In each port city, the team heard that Contship’s offering had to link into the overall Belt and Road scheme and that meant delivering efficiency in a combination of shipping, terminal operation and rail links.
Contship Italia updated its hosts on the current investments being made at La Spezia Container Terminal and emphasized the fact that the group was ‘building for the future’ as far as Belt and Road was concerned.
The group took the opportunity to invite some existing users of La Spezia as the southern gateway alternative to its Singapore meeting which included a panel discussion followed by a wine tasting session during which guests sampled some fine Italian wines.
Among them were Mr Tan Hua Joo, executive consultant at Alphaliner Liner Research Services and Mr Ron Collett, head of LCL Asia Pacific Region of DB Schenker, the leading logistics company.
Mr Tan gave a summary of the current strategies of the lines serving major Asia ports and calling at La Spezia and other ports in southern Europe.
Mr Collett noted that DB Schenker was a regular user of La Spezia and the commitment was part of his group’s ambition to be number one on the Westbound Germany and Italy. He noted that there were 54 APAC CFS stations, and a minimum of once a weekly service to Germany (Hamburg) and Italy (Milan). He said the group competed on price, frequency and sailing time. He also noted there were three daily train services to Milan, and that this city was the group’s primary de-consolidation point for all Italy. Some 80% volumes were to Northern Italy.
La Spezia usually first rotation for Italy import port calls. Containers were available almost immediately after discharge when compared to competing ports.
Mr Collett said rail connections to Switzerland and Germany were excellent and that the Swiss market was currently served via Germany. He noted that the European Commission had a long-stated aim of shifting 30 % Road to Rail / inland waterways by 2030.
The Southern Gateway Alternative was becoming increasingly attractive because of the congestion in Northern ports due to increasingly larger vessels and volumes. He also pointed out that congestion in inland waterways and low water levels was another factor in the shift towards southern ports like La Spezia. He said: “Putting it plainly – The more you can use rail and the shorter the distance the better the economics.” And that this was the overwhelming reason why more 3PL and 4PL companies were opting for the southern gateway alternative.
This article is part of CS WINdow, Contship Italia Group's quarterly newsletter, featuring insights on the global supply chain, with a focus on European intermodal logistics. You can subscribe to learn more: