Among the 21st century’s biggest projects, China’s Belt and Road Initiative perhaps best illustrates the trajectory of the global economy. Dubbed the New Silk Road, the ambitious project will link China – the World’s Factory – on one end with Western Europe – a consumer market of more than 500 million people around 6,000 km away by land – while traversing several other major and emerging markets along the way.
Lying behind the Iron Curtain almost 25 years ago, the state of Brandenburg finds itself at the heart of the reunifies Germany and of Europe. And the bundesland – one of the country’s 16 federated states – is predicted to benefit from this new trade route being built by China for the following reasons:
1. Rail transport from Asia to Europe will be twice as fast as sea transport in the future.
Presently, a container ship traveling along the “Golden Route” takes at least 48 days from Hong Kong to Hamburg via the Suez Canal, and at least 35 days via the northeast route to Rotterdam. Freight trains from China to Western Europe via the Belt Project will only take around 12 days.
2. Brandenburg and neighboring capital region Berlin is the gateway to Western Europe
Outside the German ports, Brandenburg has one of the largest number of logistics companies because of its location between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, as well as the huge population that resides in Berlin.
Practically all shipments from the ports of Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Rotterdam need to pass through Brandenburg on their way from and to Eastern Europe. Because space for containers is becoming scarce in those ports, logistics companies are relocating to surrounding areas, like Brandenburg. Eventually, all rail cargo to and from China and Asia will pass through Brandenburg.
3. In 2018, Germany is to complete a new high-performance rail network.
Next year, Germany is to finish the last missing link in a high-performance rail network that will connect Poland, Germany and France. In Brandenburg, the railway connection is being completely rebuilt at the border crossing in Horka, near Gorlitz. That will mean that logistics companies in the German capital region can immediately transport goods to China via the mainland in 2018.
Some German and European rail transport companies have already set up operations in Brandenburg, like Bremer Lagerlogistikgesellschaft (BLG) and Bertschi STR, as they expect new business opportunities to emerge with the completion of this new rail network and the New Silk Road.
(Ed’s Note: IHK Cottbus represents around 34,000 member companies and promotes South Brandenburg as a suitable and profitable investment location.)