Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I’m Kieran Ring, from the International Logistics Research Institute, which pays special attention to the development of the harbour, especially the role that the seaport played in the global supply chain and logistics. This morning, I was invited by the organizer to introduce the topic under the Belt and Road Initiative. I know that everyone in Asia is familiar with the Belt and Road project. We have many friends from ASEAN. Let me introduce them here. What can we say to China? Looked around China’s achievements in the past few years, we often say that China has created an economic miracle. Now, China has become an engine of globalization. It’s the first stage of our development, the first stage is actually in 2001. After joining the WTO, China has entered a new stage and export its own development model to the world, which is also the core of our Belt and Road Initiative in my opinion. From the perspective of Westerners, there are actually some people still have worries about China’s behavior, but if you really analyze the intention of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, more consideration is still a win-win concept. I think the word win-win in English does not fully reproduce all the connotations of Chinese win-win. Everyone should understand and grasp it further on this subject because some countries have reached various cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative and they have such intentions. Greece was a country that was severely affected by the financial crisis, so the country’s development was difficult. At that time, Greece had to restructure half of the country’s structure, and they were told that some of their chips must be thrown out and pull back in the crash.
Therefore, I think the first understanding of the Belt and Road Initiative is that people often compare it with the Marshall Plan, in fact, it used to be an aid plan. The two are different. Now, 82 countries along the Belt and Road have established economic and trade cooperation zones. The frontier of this work is actually port and logistics. Now, some projects in the past have been re-positioned as projects under the Belt and Road before the initiative, that is, before Chairman Xi actually put forward the concept, Chinese port companies have already entered Global Market. Actually, the development has not stopped in the past 15 to 20 years. In the final analysis, the reality of the Belt and Road is more concerned about the logistics industry. From the perspective of the Global Logistics Institute, the Belt and Road Initiative is actually a global logistics strategy. so we particularly welcome such initiatives in China and also pay close attention to research and development along the Belt and Road.
I would like to say that COSCO actually won a new port plan. COSCO later became interested not only in some part of port, but in the whole. Before that, China’s products were actually shipped to Europe by Beigang. All these goods destined for Central Europe are first to be transported to the North. The actual situation is that they are entering Northern Europe. The entry from the southern end is actually underdeveloped. COSCO Group sees this opportunity to transport faster than traditional. I would like to talk about a theme today, that is, why the Belt and Road Initiative is win-win? First of all, I’d like to talk about how does it bring benefits to Greece? The Greek government realizes that the Belt and Road policy will actually help Greece realize its own national strategy and become the economic center of the Balkan Peninsula and the Mediterranean region. Therefore, Greece actually understands its pivotal position very well and the Belt and Road will help realize its vision. If they participate in the Belt and Road fully, it will bring Greece 5.1 billion euros in revenue. This revenue is still considerable. COSCO has once again invested 500 million euros in development. Previously, the investment reached 350 million euros. Now it adds up to nearly 1 billion. More importantly, this country's logistics output has been greatly improved, which was only 400 million euros before. Once the infrastructure is built, Greece can quickly attract some investment from these mainstream industries. For example, the projects along the way has attracted about US$1.6 billion worth of investment from other Chinese companies, including China’s Huawei, ZTE, State Grid, etc. Of course, there are other more amazing performances and the throughput has increased by 4 times and then ranked from the previous 93 to 38 among all the container ports in the world and became the most effective container port in the Mediterranean region in 2017. Previously, only 171 ships were served and it was increased to 207 in the first half of this year. All these initiatives are supported by the Greek government, hoping to transform the port into a shipbuilding hub in the Mediterranean region.
In 2017, the cargo throughput also increased from 347 million to 369 million TEUs. In fact, ten years ago, this port was not in the top 15, and now it has become the seventh busiest in Europe Port. This port has also started to improve the operating capacity of the railway. Now it is called China Europe Ocean Continent Interconnection Project that will plan to transform the port into the largest cargo transportation port in the entire region and the largest logistics center in the entire region. At that time, COSCO will be one of its largest ship group, which can carry about 20,000 TEUs of cargo. At the same time, COSCO Taurus ship began its maiden voyage from the port.
The Belt and Road represents a win-win situation. For the Greeks, their previous unemployment rate was as high as 70%. Now it can be said that the unemployment rate has dropped significantly due to the prosperity of the port. In our view, the Belt and Road represents an economic initiative. Not only will it enhance China’s trade routes, but it will also enhance China’s influence in the world. In fact, the huge scale of this project will inevitably bring a lot of risks. At the same time, it will also affect all these local financial, legal and local governments, as well as some challenges including security. This will also bring a lot of changes in the economic and political environment for all countries, so we must be able to realize that this is a very great initiative put forward by the Chinese government, which will definitely bring a lot to all countries along the route in the future. so I also hope that you will follow the example of the Greek success story. The Belt and Road Initiative needs a lot of support and more financial capital injection. Thank you very much.
The author is CEO of Global Logistics Association