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FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTEUROPE


significant quantities of bulk commodities. Several European leaders, however,


expressed alarm about China’s increasing influence and the MoU’s potential ability to divide Europe. It remains to be seen whether other European countries will follow Italy’s lead and accept BRI funds, or whether there will be a continental push for stronger oversight of Chinese investment. “Surely the connection between China


and Europe is important and will be mutually beneficial. But it should be negotiated between Europe and China,” added Federici. “Leaving the negotiation to each single country will only create competition among the smaller nations. A strong Europe is essential and the latest political developments, where divisions among various European countries are increasing, is not good news for the project logistics industry, but very good for our Chinese partners.” According to Federici, the election in


May to choose the new European parliament will be an important step to see whether Europe will grow together, or return to single-country politics. France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia,


Lithuania and the UK have all strengthened, or are in the process of strengthening, their investment screening regimes; while Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia and Sweden are considering setting up or reinforcing their investment review mechanisms.


Investment scrutinisation In March 2019, the European Union (EU) also agreed to a system to coordinate the scrutinisation of foreign investments into Europe, notably from China. Under that plan, developed in the wake of a surge in Chinese investments, the European Commission will investigate foreign investments in strategic technologies and infrastructure such as ports or energy networks. Still, China actually tightened the purse


strings last year, with investment in Europe falling by 70 percent year on year to USD22.5 billion, according to a report by law firm Baker McKenzie and research consultancy Rhodium Group. The dramatic decline was linked partly to the USD43 billion acquisition of Syngenta by ChemChina in 2017, which distorted the average investment figures. The far-reaching implications of China’s


initiative may be hard to avoid, however. The country already has a strong foothold across Africa, having supported a number of projects on the continent. Russia is also looking east for new investment; improving


144 May/June 2019


Ceva Logistics is starting a regular trucking service between China and Europe.


Sino-Russian relations are seen by many as a result of the latter’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the imposition of EU and US sanctions. China is now increasingly involved in Russia’s major capital project developments. A market analysis by Militzer & Münch


Group in October 2018 took a closer look at the logistics opportunities related to the BRI. 43 percent of the fund will be allocated for projects in the Middle East. 23 percent will be invested in Southeast Asia, and 12 percent in Russia, according to the report. The total sum invested globally is


estimated to reach approximately USD1.1 trillion, meaning there should be an abundance of infrastructure projects that will invole logisticians. According to Lothar Thoma, M&M


Militzer & Münch ceo, there “is little chance for European logistics companies in China directly”. He added: “Opportunities present


Today, logistics is mostly decided upon in Europe and the USA, but in the future these decisions will come increasingly from China, as big Chinese enterprises are gradually conquering the world market. – Lothar Thoma, M&M Militzer & Münch


themselves in those countries where China is not yet, or only scarcely, active. We profit from these opportunities in Kazakhstan and in Central Asia, for instance.” Militzer & Münch also observed that


there is a shift of decision-makers in the global logistics market. “Today, logistics is mostly decided upon in Europe and the USA,” explained Thoma, but “in the future these decisions will come increasingly from China, as big Chinese enterprises are gradually conquering the world market and developing their own supply chains.”


Highway to the East China also joined the World Road Transport Union’s (IRU) TIR system, an agreement that shaves off numerous border control checks and red tape regulations, in January 2019. A Chinese truck can now drive from the Chinese border to Western Europe in as little as 13 days. Capitalising on this, Ceva Logistics is


starting a regular trucking service between China and Europe. One of its first shipments – 70 cu m of garments – arrived in Spain 16 days after departing from South China. The truck travelled via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France. While consumer goods will be the cargo


of choice, Moscow-based forwarder DAS expects heavy equipment and machinery to be moved by truck from China to Europe in the future, too.


HLPFI www.heavyliftpfi.com


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