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And a few decades

EastRussia assesses the chances of the Far East to containerize the level of a major Chinese port

Russia's possibilities for transcontinental transshipment of container cargoes are so microscopic in comparison with China that even the regime of the free port of Vladivostok (SPV) will not change much in the coming years, experts believe, interviewed by EastRussia. But under certain conditions, including modernization of the Transsib, the SST will still be able to cause a significant increase in Chinese transit through the ports in the south of Primorye, they believe.

And a few decades
Photo: shutterstock.com
With the end of the first international one-way-one-way forum in Beijing, at which Russia was invited by China among other countries to participate in the construction of the global project "Economic belt of the Silk Road" (ESMP) to create a network of transcontinental transport corridors between Asia and Europe And Africa, fears of skeptics have not gone away. Their position remains the same: the dwarfish economy, compared with the Chinese one, will be absorbed by the eastern neighbor, which will triumphantly affirm its influence in the post-Soviet space and deprive Russia of the status of the land bridge between Europe and Asia. Say, ESPP will become a mainland analogue of China's logistics superiority at sea.

Today, as you know, 95-97% of all containerized cargo from Southeast Asia to Europe, the Middle East and Africa are transshipped through Chinese ports. For comparison, in 2016 the container throughput of one port of Shanghai amounted to 37,13 million TEU, Hong Kong - about 22 million TEU. During the same period, all Russian ports taken together handled only 3,99 million TEU, of which 1,19 million TEU fell to the share of the Far Eastern ports. With such a gigantic imbalance, is it worth betting in container logistics on the free port of Vladivostok, which so far attracts mainly only investors focused not on container but on raw materials supplies? Worth it - experts say. But subject to a number of conditions.

According to Anna Bardal, Head of the Department of Economic Theory and Special Disciplines of the Institute of Economic Research, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, it is still difficult to predict the guaranteed growth of container turnover through the seaports of the Far East in the near future: International Transport Corridors (ITC) Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 connecting, respectively, the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin of China with the ports of the Primorsky Territory, are designed to ensure, in the main, transit traffic between Asia and Europe through the territory of the Russian Federation. The containers arrive at the seaside ports by rail. For the period from 2011-2015. this transit container flow increased by 29,9% and amounted to 217 thousand TEU. But with the development of alternative routes of the PRC in the direction of the EU, bypassing the territory of the Russian Federation, the transit traffic through Primorye may decrease. To keep this direction, it is necessary to improve the state of the transport infrastructure (roads, port facilities, checkpoints on the state border) on the Russian side. "

Anna Bardal thinks it is possible, in principle, to form an export container traffic for the ports of the Far East at the expense of goods, whose production will be concentrated within the FPV regime. But today, according to her observation, among the residents of FPV there are no registered manufactures of high-tech export-oriented products. In addition, such negative factors remain, the expert notes, as: “failed projects to create special economic zones in the Far East (which foreign partners witnessed), lack of general stability in tariff and institutional conditions, the presence of traditional transportation routes, the presence of bureaucratic difficulties ( long procedures for paperwork in FPV, the time required to complete the mandatory registration stages, etc.) ”.

Another researcher at the Institute for Economic Research, Elena Zaostrovskikh, believes that in the next five to ten years, Russian ports in the Far East will not be able to significantly reduce the gap in container traffic with Chinese ports. Partly due to the initial immaturity of the free port project itself: “Spraying the FPV regime into five regions of the Far East cannot bring a positive result, just as the fact that the state is shifting the burden of financing infrastructure in FPVs onto private investors, this contradicts the general principle of forming the regime“ Free port ". The problem of handling transit cargo is being solved through the introduction of an electronic declaration system, but extremely slowly. The tariffs for the transportation of transit containers have not yet been reduced), there are no distribution centers, the work of sea and rail transport is practically not coordinated. "

"In fact, the Far Eastern ports are an infrastructure annex to the Trans-Siberian Railway. But the same to the Chinese today is not particularly interesting our Transsib due to its meager transshipment capacity - only 250 thousand TEU per year. China's needs are at least 500 thousand TEU per year, "says Sergei Sazonov, a senior researcher at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. - For this, it is necessary to modernize the railway, built in the beginning of the century before last. Will the Chinese invest in it? I doubt. This is entirely our inner concern. China, in addition to the main sea corridor along the southern part of Eurasia, is actively seeking alternative land routes bypassing Russia, through the countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasia. "

Nevertheless, Mr. Sazonov sees good prospects for the Primorye-2 ITC, which connects the Chinese province of Jilin with the ports of Slavyanka, Zarubino and Posiet in the south of the Primorsky Territory: “Of this trinity, I would single out Zarubino,” the orientalist emphasizes. the southernmost (it does not freeze throughout the year) port of the Far East, on the basis of which Ziyavudin Magomedov's Summa group is going to implement the Big Port Zarubino project with the attraction of foreign investments. The port is located at the junction of the borders of three states ─ Russia, the DPRK and the PRC, it has road and rail access roads overlooking the main roads of the Russian Federation and handles a wide range of goods. Moreover, the Chinese are interested in its development (and the adjacent transport infrastructure): it is directly connected with the city of Hunchun in Jilin province, where a large logistics terminal is located. From here, freight traffic is distributed to other regions of China, as well as Japan, North Korea, South Korea and the United States. With the help of the port of Zarubino, which is part of the FPV coverage area, it is possible to bring the volume of Chinese and other cargo through the Trans-Siberian to Europe up to 400-500 thousand TEU per year (higher than the level during the Soviet Union). This can significantly replenish the budget of the Primorsky Territory and improve the socio-economic situation here. "

A similar opinion is shared by Leonid Khazanov, chief expert of the research group "Infomine". He admits that the created transport corridors "Primorye-1" and "Primorye-2" can help to improve the situation with container turnover through the Far Eastern ports: "Primorye-1" allows to reduce the route of cargo delivery by 800 km, thereby giving carriers a gain in time ... Thanks to him, it will be convenient to deliver containerized cargo from China to Russia, Japan, South Korea and the USA. The same can be said about Primorye-2. As for the free port "Vladivostok", then, of course, it can affect the dynamics and structure of logistics flows (it should be borne in mind that it is also designed to promote the creation of various industries in the Far East). But without an optimal tariff policy in relation to rail transportation, modernization of railways and highways, without the development of the ports themselves, tax and customs preferences in the free port of Vladivostok may not be very effective.

At the same time, Leonid Khazanov is sure that coal will remain one of the key cargoes in the structure of the Far East ports' turnover in the coming years: "This is due to two factors: firstly, the location of large coal mining centers beyond the Urals; secondly, the dominance of the structure Export of coal from Asian countries, and primarily China and Japan, whose energy and industry are highly dependent on external supplies. "

Alexey Dolmatov, head of the logistics department at BP Logistic LLC, believes that "the weak infrastructure of the Far East ports is a constraining factor in the development of the entire region as a whole." "The free port mechanism will create a regional platform for the further integration of Russia into the APR. This will entail the growth and development of Far Eastern ports. Yes, there is a certain trend in the macroregion - the development of raw material export terminals. However, there is also the modernization of the existing infrastructure and the construction of new infrastructure for handling bulk, container and bulk cargo. Preferential and preferential regimes have already attracted dozens of investors to the region and caused the growth of the region's GDP. I think that if the current pace of logistics development is maintained, the Far East will reach a third of the turnover of Chinese ports in 10 years. Of course, to achieve this goal, it is necessary to apply a systematic approach , to act in the context of the general concept of the Far East development program, "he says.

The public figure and economist Sergei Fokin connects the future of Russia in the container transportation market with polar latitudes: "Transit from China to Europe did not pass Russia (and Kazakhstan), but bypassed the Russian Far East. The land route: Lianyungang-Zhengzhou-Lanzhou-Urumqi-Alma-Ata-Kyzylorda-Aaktobe-Orenburg-Kazan-Nizhny Novgorod-Moscow-Saint Petersburg, with further access to the Baltic Sea. This route is difficult to change to a more cardinal by land. But the Far East can become a powerful component of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). To this end, it is necessary to create a new icebreaker fleet and ships of the ice class in a short time, to ensure regular posting of caravans of ships along the Arctic Ocean (this is possible, for example, if to organize counter passages of ships: one hundred vessels one and one hundred to another - Navigation terms for several months). The advantage of Russia, especially in the Far East - in deep-water bays and deep-sea ports. It allows the construction of large-capacity vessels of the ice class. In addition, Russia can offer a wide use of composite materials for shipbuilding: a petrochemical production created by Rosneft near the port of Nakhodka will be able to supply polymers and other products to the Far East enterprise. "

And the General Director of the Fund for the Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region (FRDV) Alexei Chekunkov believes that the backwardness of Russian logistics in general and the Far East in particular can be eliminated in a relatively short time only by breakthrough transport technologies: “Russia is a giant country with a low population density, and The core of our transport infrastructure is still 10th century technologies - railways and the internal combustion engine. The development of logistics in the XXI century using information and unmanned technologies, as well as new sources of movement (LNG, electricity, magnetic levitation trains) should become a national priority. Russia itself will decide on technological solutions and routes that are beneficial for domestic Russian transportation and take into account the trans-Eurasian routes, and will offer China joint investments in detailed projects. " According to the head of the FEDV, the first $ 100 billion to launch pilot projects must be invested from domestic Russian sources, and another $ XNUMX billion (for the deployment of the transport network) must be attracted with the help of new international financial institutions recently created by China with the participation of Russia: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, New the Development Bank ("BRICS Bank") and the Silk Road Fund.
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