At this year’s Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre 22-23 November) China’s Belt and Road initiative will take centre stage. Ahead of this, the largest such conference in Hong Kong, many international businesses and financial institutions are attempting to assess just how significant a role they can play in an economic and cultural initiative that spans 65 countries and is of such magnitude. What is certain is that the creation of an efficient and reliable supply chain along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will be essential. There can be no better place to learn more than in Hong Kong, BnR’s super-connector.
According to the official Chinese website covering the BnR concept, countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will need to improve the region’s infrastructure, and put in place a secure and efficient network of land, sea and air passages, lifting their connectivity to a higher level.
With commentators suggesting that BnR needs US$5trn to be invested for infrastructure development between 2016 and 2020, there is all to play for.
Gateways along the road
International Port operators have heard the BnR call and have acted swiftly upon it. In July this year China Cosco announced a US$552m investment in the Port of Piraeus in Greece. Pakistan’s Gwadar Port was constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company and is operated by China Overseas Port Holdings. China is also involved in port projects in Colombo and Hambantota. In 2015 The CITIC Group Corporation has also won a contract to build a deep-sea port in western Myanmar.
Key players among the global port operators who are addressing the aspirations of BnR at ALMC this year are the China Merchants Group, represented by vice chairman, Zhao Huxiang and DP World, represented by group chairman and chief executive officer, HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. China Merchants Group has already committed to investing either directly or indirectly in 10 overseas ports in West Africa, Southeast Asia and Russia, including many key strategic locations along the Maritime Silk Road. Meanwhile, DP World has 77 marine and inland terminals across six continents.
Together Mr Zhao and Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem will share their wealth of experience in port development in an BnR context, exploring how logistics and trade flows may be enabled by provision of integrated infrastructures.
Solving the manufacturers’ dilemma
BnR will also be among the important topics occupying the minds of manufacturers as the pursuit of lower labour costs encounters an increasingly finite source of locations. Fortunately new technologies including digitization of the supply chain are being increasingly recognised as alternative ways to both increase efficiency and lower costs even before fully first world infrastructures are in place.
At this year’s ALMC, bringing a multi-faceted approach to the implications of relocating manufacturing bases will be Dr Qu Jian, vice president of the China Development Institute, Takeshi Kondo, general director, Yusen Logistics (Vietnam) Co Ltd, Dr John Cheh, vice chairman and chief executive officer, Esquel Group and Tommy Liu, director and group chief representative – Southern China, Li & Fung Development China. Each speaker’s unique perspective on the evolving supply during a period of newly emerging trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement along with China’s BnR is sure to stimulate further discussion among the more than 2,000 expected to attend this year’s ALMC.
To make a super-connection be sure to book a place at ALMC 2016, at www.almc.hk now.