Rotterdam port may miss the boat in new trade with China

Rotterdam docks. Photo: VDW via

Rotterdam port authority, backed by the Dutch government, must invest much more in logistics to and from China and the rest of southest Asia. Otherwise, Europe’s largest port may ‘miss the boat’ and become isolated, warns a report by leading German consultancy Roland Berger.

‘The new Silk Route is a long-term project in which the Chinese government is investing billions. Wages are increasing in China, so jobs are moving to Vietnam and Bangladesh. As a result new logistics streams are developing,’ Shanghai-based port expert Dennis Dupoux was quoted as saying in the Telegraaf on Friday.

The position of the Netherlands as a global trading power is under increasing pressure. Therefore Rotterdam and The Hague  should invest in support stations in Asia with customs facilities to ensure the goods keep moving through, said Arnoud van der Sloot of Roland Berger.

But Rotterdam port director Allard Castelein sees nothing in what he terms a reversed Silk Road to China. ‘We are going on with our position as the most accessible deep-water seaport in Europe for goods destined for the European hinterland.

China is building up its own European infrastructure, spending some $20bn in buying up ports including Piraeus in Greece. The Chinese are also considering having their own terminal in Hamburg. Rold Berger said Rotterdam runs the risk of becoming isolated in this manner.

Strong first half

Rotterdam booked a  record 238 million tonnes of international ocean-going goods transport in the first half of 2017, 4% more than in the year-earlier period. Container numbers shot up by 10%.

Castelein said multi-billion investments in the port have been announced. ‘That’s a sign that the business community continues to believe in Rotterdam,’ he said.

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