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Oct 17, 2020
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Italian Trieste becomes a German geopolitical project

The port of Trieste is the third acquisition of a company from Hamburg, which has already bought the port of Odessa and the terminal in Tallinn

In the struggle for supremacy in world trade, the battle for major seaports flares up. As reported by the Italian edition Ants, a German state-owned company HHLA (Port of Hamburg and Logistics) from Hamburg acquired a controlling stake in a multifunctional terminal in the port of Trieste. Trieste will become “an important geopolitical center of trade on China's new Silk Road.

“Why do container ships with Chinese goods for the EU countries, having passed the Suez Canal, do not immediately dock in the ports of Greece and Italy, but more often than not spend another five or six days to go around the Iberian Peninsula and reach Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg through the Atlantic waters? or Bremerhaven? " Deutsche Welle asks. And gives the answer: "Because these ports in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany ... provide more varied transport options for the onward delivery of goods to the most important sales markets in Europe."...

Now the situation should change. "A new logistics mastodon is poised to reopen the historic trade route from Central Europe to the Mediterranean, Africa and the Far East.", - writes Ants... Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG is the largest port and transport and logistics company in Germany and one of the leading in Europe. Its three terminals in Hamburg handle cargo transported on routes from Asia to Central and Eastern Europe. And its railway operators provide container transportation services from ports in the North and Baltic Seas, from the interior regions of Central and Eastern Europe, from the Adriatic, from Turkey.

Today Trieste is preparing to become a new communication hub between East and West, North and South. In 2018, Trieste has already taken the first place in terms of cargo turnover among Italian ports. The Trieste terminal has its own train connection. In addition, German companies connect the port of Trieste to the European intermodal network.

Trieste is the third acquisition of the Hamburg-based company, which has already bought the port of Odessa in Ukraine and the Estonian terminal in Tallinn. General manager HHLA Angela Titzrat says Hamburg's ambition is to become the “European champion” that will change the configuration of the flow of goods in the world.

“Acquisition by the Hamburg-owned HHLA of the port complex of Trieste, - writes Newspaper, - opens a new front of geopolitics in the field of transport in the Old World. For several months, Angela Merkel has played an assertive game to strengthen Germany's geo-economic central position in Europe ... A far-sighted policy is necessary, especially in the face of the emergence of competing countries like China, which could rob Germany of market share and economic influence....

Italy became the first European country to join China's Belt and Road project in 2019. China acquired 35% of the shares of the Euromax terminal in Rotterdam, and in Greece it bought the port of Piraeus. Outside the European Union, China also acquired Kunport, Turkey's third-largest port, and shares in Haifa and Ashdod in Israel. Currently, Chinese companies own port facilities in 34 countries and plan to acquire similar facilities in 8 more countries.

Therefore, observers say the German acquisition of the Italian port of Trieste is a European response to the challenges posed by the world trade war between China and the United States. After all, American companies are now aiming at acquiring European ports. Trump recently announced that, with his submission, EU countries are ready to build 9-11 ports that will receive LNG from America. The US also plans to buy the port of Alexandroupolis in Greece. All these ports can play the role of military infrastructure. “Concerns about ports are not only driven by economic factors, - writes the American edition of Diplomat. - By their nature, ports are dual-use facilities, where both merchant ships and warships can moor. China is modernizing its naval forces ... Chinese warships in the summer of 2017 paid a friendly four-day visit to Piraeus. Beijing opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti two years ago. "...

However, for now, the main thing is trade, and about 90% of world trade depends on shipping. China's growth as a global manufacturing hub has led Chinese ports to consistently set new cargo handling records. Even now, out of the four largest commercial ports in the world, three are Chinese, and the palm of the busiest port belongs to Shanghai.

So the acquisition of the port of Trieste by HHLA is not just a major commercial deal, but a German geopolitical project.

Russia is also trying to develop port infrastructure. "According to a comprehensive plan for the modernization and expansion of the main infrastructure by 2024, the capacity of the seaports of Russia in the Far Eastern, North-Western, Volga-Caspian and Azov-Black Sea basins should be increased to 1.3 billion tons per year," - writes "Rossiyskaya Gazeta". However, China is far away: according to the Ministry of Transport of the PRC, the cargo turnover of Chinese ports amounted to 9.29 billion tons in just eight months of 2020.

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