Speaking at the recent China’s Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong last month, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, highlighted the need for enhancing international cross-sector connectivity in order to realise the project’s significant trade potential.
“With a project of this magnitude, it is essential that we remove complexities from the supply chain to realise the potential benefits of such a global initiative,” Sulayem said, as he stressed the impact on global trade that economic cooperation can bring, with more than 60 countries involved in the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.
“International transport routes need to support seamless trade movement more than ever – this means simplifying customs requirements and standardising logistics, addressing different rail gauges and ICT [Information Communication Technology] issues so that goods can move smoothly from point A to B without interruption and unnecessary bottlenecks. This requires cross sector and cross border partnerships,” Sulayem said.
Hong Kong-based China Merchants Holdings International (CMHI) had earlier proposed that it intends to invest in 10 overseas ports in Russia, West Africa and South East Asia in a bid to drive China’s OBOR strategy.
Bai Jingtao, Managing Director at CMHI, said: “It is important for China to build international connections so it can develop together with different countries. Our development plan mirrors One Belt, One Road and this is the primary driver of our expansion strategy.”
“We need to find the right partners in the right locations overseas. Different countries and organizations have different visions and we need to find those whose goals and approach can complement our own,” Jingtao added.
China’s Maritime Silk Road (MSR) strategy, first proposed in 2013, was designed to enhance trading connections among the countries from the Far East to the Indian Ocean to Africa.
As part of this strategy, Hu Jianhua, CMHI Executive Director, said that it intends to participate in the development of the East Container Terminal at Colombo Port in Sri Lanka, strategically located along the proposed MSR between Asia and Europe.
Meanwhile, Sulayem said that “China is a key part of our global network. Our joint ventures in Qingdao, Tianjin, Yantai and Hong Kong are very important to us and are a perfect example of the impact of strong partnerships to realise efficiencies along the supply chain.”
“We’ve pioneered multi-modal transport and logistics connectivity with smart technology at our flagship Jebel Ali Port and Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), home to 7,300 companies,” Sulayem added.
Jafza is the largest free zone in the Middle East and North Africa and its success is based on its continuing ability to attract companies, encouraging them to grow by providing a supportive corporate governance, customs, legal and operational environment.
Bin Sulayem continued: “In the modern world, there is a demand for faster, safer and more cost effective transport of goods across the supply chain. Free zones need to plug into integrated logistics and coordinate with the supply chain community to ensure hinterland access which can be a major inhibitor of economic growth, especially in developing markets.”
DP World’s operations in Asia across to Europe with its maritime and inland capabilities mean that it is well positioned to support cargo movements along the OBOR.
The company’s presence in Kazakhstan highlights its role in advising governments around the world on how to develop their trade and logistics sectors. Additionally, the recent opening of DP World Yarimca in Turkey adds another valuable outlet to the OBOR initiative.
Bilateral trade between the UAE and China has more than doubled in the last five years, standing at almost US$55 billion today. The UAE is also the largest Middle Eastern market for Chinese goods and is home to some 4,200 Chinese companies.