What is the New Silk Road and why is there currently a greater focus on it again?
The New Silk Road, also known as the Belt Road Initiative, is a logistical, but above all political, project that aims to connect Asia with Europe. There is a water side to it and a continental Silk Road. Maritime routes will be further developed and rail transport will be strengthened. This creates transport alternatives and promotes the combination of maritime transport and rail. This kind of initiative is not new, but is only just beginning to attract Europe's attention. We Europeans have certainly neglected the New Silk Road for far too long, but the issue is now coming more and more to the fore.
How do you intend to use the land freight connection to China for your own purposes?
We are currently building two hubs: Lodz and Chengdu. Lodz in Poland is the start and end point of the connection on the European side. The Chinese counterpart is the city of Chengdu in central China. We are currently in the process of establishing a wholly-owned subsidiary here by the first quarter of 2019. We will then be in a position to organise the pre and post-carriage from the factories, whether in China or Europe. To this end, we offer all the modes of transport that also belong to us.
What advantages and disadvantages do you see in this compared to maritime transport?
Every mode of transport has its strengths and weaknesses. In terms of volume, maritime traffic is certainly cheaper, especially if it goes to the regions on the coast such as Shanghai, Tianjin or Shenzhen. Land transport goes mainly to the centre and north-west of China. This is where the new economic centres are located. Maritime traffic needs about 60 days to reach central China and we can manage the whole thing in about 20 days. Probably even faster in the future. The land freight connection is particularly suited to the transport of high-quality heavy goods with short transit times. However, the volume of goods transported on the Silk Road by both sea and by land will continue to increase.
What new questions arise as a result of the New Silk Road?
There are, of course, also critical points to take into account with the Belt Road Initiative. Investments in infrastructure such as railways and ports, for example, are often linked to traffic licenses and follow-up orders for Chinese companies from the Chinese side. European firms can barely compete with the Chinese investments, which are fully supported by the state. This threatens to turn Chinese investments into barriers that preclude entry to global markets and weaken value creation in Europe. In addition, investments in Asia and Africa, for example, are being used by China to enforce Chinese standards. This means that there is no opportunity for other companies to become active there. Europe must therefore commit itself all the more to being able to co-determine the rules on the ground.
What does the land connection to China mean for the countries along the route?
Countries and regions that often fall through the Western investment grid for political or economic reasons will be given an opportunity to participate in trade flows through the New Silk Road. They gain access to new markets and can use an existing transport network. Companies will settle in the regions and expertise will increase. Overall, economic prosperity along the New Silk Road will certainly increase.
About Dr Jörg Mosolf
Dr Jörg Mosolf is a trained forwarding merchant. Following completion of his MBA in St. Gallen, he undertook a doctorate at the University of Prague entitled “Intercultural Management in Logistics”. He gained experience in London and in various branches of the Mosolf Group. He has been working at the company headquarters in Kirchheim since 2002. As managing partner, his responsibilities include the corporate strategy, marketing and corporate communications divisions, as well as sales.