INTERNATIONAL EVENTS. The Role of Ports in the Development of the New Silk Road

The eighth edition of the annual Transport Week, the event, which took place in Gdansk at the beginning of March and gathered nearly 400 participants during three days tackled topics related to planning and financing of port development projects, as well as opportunities presented to the European logistics sector by the New Silk Road initiative.

Port market forecast – now and tomorrow

The opening event ended with the participants’ attention being once again directed towards the Baltic region and Poland, with a focused analysis of the port market dynamics revolving around Polish and Baltic ports. In his keynote speech, Bogdan Ołdakowski, CEO at Actia Forum, the organizer of the event, mentioned the high activity characterizing the Polish ports when it comes to infrastructural investments and the overall dynamic growth in terms of container turnover, which the Baltic region enjoys in comparison to the European average.

The conference was all about specific examples of some of the more interesting port development projects underway in the region. First there was a brief overview of the investment plans of the Port of Gdynia, featuring the deepening of the approach fairway and the internal waters, construction of a public ferry terminal and redevelopment of the railway access to the western part of the port among others. The improvements of hinterland connectivity, construction of new quays and investments have also been mentioned in the presentation by the second Polish port, namely Ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście.

A project which has been in development for quite some time now has been presented by the Ports of Stockholm. In their overview of the current work progress of the Stockholm Norvik Port project, they highlighted the complex nature of such endeavours and perhaps a too ambitious approach of some of the other ports. Environmental needs have been noted as one of the reasons for the development of outer port projects – an issue directly picked-up on by the session’s last speaker. Ingemar Gustavsson, Business Unit Manager at Actemium, one of the conference sponsors, shared with the audience the benefits, which come from integrating solutions, such as on-shore power supply, from the very beginning of the planning phase.

Some of the above-mentioned topics recurred in a speech by Steve Wray, Associate Director at WSP, who examined possible forms of investment among various other topics. He also took it upon himself to identify some of the risks linked to development projects, including the need by the port authorities to actually sell the investment in order to attract possible investors and allow the latter to have a larger say in operational and phasing matters.

The speech has been directly followed by a discussion panel, featuring representatives of the European Commission, ESPO, DCT Gdańsk, EBRD, the Polish Development Fund and the French Embassy in Warsaw. The discussion focused on the intricacies of project financing. The importance to consider social and environmental aspects has been underscored, especially in view of their direct impact on evaluation of a project’s feasibility. The panellists also mentioned the need to focus investments whenever possible, as diluting the effort will negatively affect the chances for successful completion.

Erik Griffiths, Architect at Rundquist Arkitekter, gave some interesting insights regarding the integration of a functioning port into a functioning town. The issue has been further explored by the Port of Helsinki, covering city expansion and how it limits the space available to the ports. The topic will only become even more relevant as cities all over Europe and the world continue to grow.

Andrew Huxley, Regional Development Director at the TT Club in his presentation examined the maritime supply chain cyber threat, highlighting the fact that ports are a very lucrative target for cyber-crimes and that such attempts are a question of when, rather than if.

Taking a tour along the New Silk Road

After a charming networking cocktail party at the Town Hall of Gdansk, the participants gathered once again for a trip along the New Silk Road. The keynote speech was delivered by Dr Indra Vonck, Senior Port Expert at Deloitte Port Services. Despite the prevailing need to clearly define the full extent of the New Silk Road, it carries a range of opportunities for the European and Baltic logistics sector, including record-breaking inflow of capital and a substantial multiplier effect for well-executed infrastructure investments.

What followed was an analysis of trade and investment between the Nordic-Baltic countries and China, prepared by Jonė Kalendienė of Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania). As of right now China isn’t particularly active in the aforementioned region, with the country being left out of the top 10 investors list in any of the Baltic and Nordic countries, and the overall investment level in the region falling by 37 % last year.

The Polish Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation gave the audience a broader perspective on the role of European seaports within the Belt and Road Initiative.

The view once again shifted towards the global impact of the Silk Road, as Przemysław Myszka, Editor-in-Chief at the Baltic Transport Journal, talked about how it influences the global agenda. In order to do so, China will also need to step-up its game when it comes to transparency of cargo flow along the route. The flow itself will have to be further optimized. Both can be achieved by enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) and intermodal connectivity along the New Silk Road, a topic tackled by a representative of Inmarsat presentation.

Christoph Szakowski, Managing Partner at LogCon East, took the stage in order to offer an overview of regional strategies of 3rd party logistics providers. He listed choosing the right trade corridor and a proper analysis of the selected route with the help of experienced consultants, as well as patient long-term planning considering cultural differences among the suggested solutions for logistics companies wishing to benefit from the New Silk Road.

The conference also offered a view from the perspective of rail operators. Stephen Archer, CEO at Baltic Rail, offered his company’s take on fast access connections to Central Europe also examining the aspects based on which cargo forwarders choose between rail, road and sea connections. Carsten Pottharst, Managing Director at InterRail, took the issue further and attempted to answer whether Central Europe could be the gateway to the Far East. While capacity exists, along stable and reliable connections to a variety of destinations, it is important to take possible geopolitical factors, such as the embargo on Russia and the impact of highly varying weather conditions along the routes into account.

Short sea intermodal, LNG value chain and cross-border cooperation

Transport Week wouldn’t be the same without a broad range of side-events taking place during its course. The audience had the chance to learn more about issues related to short sea intermodal connections, safety and innovative technologies surrounding the LNG value chain, as well as ways to improve and finance innovative transport practices based on cross-border cooperation.

Based on the information, provided by Transport Week organisers

 

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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
International business magazine JŪRA MOPE SEA has been
published since 1999.

ISSN 1392-7825

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