RLL Container Report - 13 December 2017
From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd. Email: email@example.com Date: 13 December 2017
The Duisburg – Minsk tie-up.
The inland German port of Duisburg has carved out for itself a role as the biggest inland container terminal in the European Union. The port has combined both its inland terminals with its sophisticated rail network and the German Autobahn system, which all combine to reduce transport times between the main box ports in the north and its large consumer base in the heart of Western Europe. In addition to eight container terminals, handling 3.6 million teu per annum, Duisburg can offer its clients the services of five tri-modal, container terminals, providing access to road and rail links, as well as the highly-developed European barge fleet.
Modern barges can transport up to 500 teu along the major rivers of Central Europe. The three great rivers, the Rhine, Danube & Elbe, dominate the waterway system of Germany. They are connected by a network of canals in the north and by the river Main & the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in the south. The importance of this highly complex barge network was demonstrated when an accident caused the closure of the main North-South rail line by Rastatt, Germany. There was an alternative route but this required train drivers who were fluent in French and other European languages and so the rail cargo flow by rail dried up, while the barge operators, speaking every language under the European sun, continued serving clients from Antwerp, Basle, Vienna and beyond.
Now, the management of the port of Duisburg is planning a major expansion eastwards to Minsk, where the Belarussians and Chinese are constructing the Great Stone industrial park. The park, located 25 km outside Minsk and covering some 90 square kilometres, has been granted special status and is already attracting companies from Asia and Europe. Five hundred kilometres to the North-West is the Lithuanian container port of Klaipeda, while the Belarussian highways and rail lines provide quick access to the seventeen million consumers of the Moscow region, a mere 700 km to the East. To top it all, it is less than a morning’s drive to the Belarus border with Poland and from there further West on to Germany and France, two of the richest markets in the European Union.
By exploiting the geographical and logistical advantages of the Great Stone industrial port, Chinese producers will not only remain competitive time-wise but can also continue to compete with other low-cost producers in South Asia, who are trying to make inroads into the large and attractive markets in eastern and central Europe. Co-operation with the port of Duisburg provides the Sino-Belarussian joint-venture with a highly sophisticated distribution network centred on Europe’s largest and most sophisticated distribution hub serving all of Western Europe. So, as the United Kingdom in the north bids a final farewell to the European Union, the EU expands its co-operation with the countries to the east.
John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd.
13 December 2017
Copyright ©, 2017, John Keir