The One Belt One Road Project, launched by Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to create a network of transport, communication and exchange infrastructures, involving at present 64 countries in addition to China, on an area extending from Asia, Europe and Africa, which has 4.5 billion inhabitants (almost 65% of the world’s population) and represents 30% of world GDP. OBOR, which the Chinese government said to be completing in its lead by 2049, has immense geo-economic strength supported by three funding institutions led by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral bank to which they have joined so far Nearly 100 countries. Projects eligible for funding under the OBOR project open up huge business opportunities in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy as well as in cross-cutting sectors. At the same time, they open new geo-economic scenarios that require informed monitoring by those who are able to combine large-scale expertise on geo-political issues with a focus on strategic business needs.
Logistics, understood as complete supply chain management, will play an important role in regulating the flow of goods and materials envisaged by the OBOR project.
The project provides for complementarity between the three main modes of transport (air, sea and rail). Currently more than 80% of goods are transported by sea. In Chinese design, iron transport will play an increasingly important role thanks to faster delivery times and costs (albeit higher in maritime transport), however sustainable for a good deal of handled products.
China / Europe’s annual freight train numbers are expected to double in the next five years using a network that will benefit from technological and operational improvements designed for high-speed passenger traffic.
For example, if today we want to move a computer from China to Europe by train we would spend about 16-18 days, against the five-week average required by sea transport. With the improvement of the rail network it could reduce travel time by about two weeks.
In addition, both for ship arrivals in Northern Europe ports and for arrivals on Italian ports (South Europe), the train represents a fast and safe solution with reliable timing, safety and traceability and an increasingly important factor with an environmental impact Content and considerably lower than land transport.
If Italy were to invest in improving port and back-up infrastructure, it would be possible to increase the share of inland shipping, especially from China, which would use our ports to enter Europe.
It will therefore be necessary to reconcile the investments and projects piloted by China and Italian investments to allow for greater integration between the Italian logistics system and the new networks offered by the OBOR.
Over the next few years, Italy has the potential to become more and more a “hinge” for the IN / OUT logistic flows with the Far East. Flows that must ensure adequate accommodation capacity, handling and service comparable to those of the major European ports / ports.
Lastly, it is increasingly urgent to develop an interconnection network that can interconnect the flows by sea with new rail connections. More and more, in fact, businesses need to have access to multiple modes of transport that differ in product, customer and final market. Ports, railways and airports must be seen within the same strategy.