Europe’s Port Cities Offer Logistics Investment Opportunities


The ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Antwerp and Valencia, together with the inland ports of Duisburg and Nuremberg, offer investors highly attractive logistics investment opportunities as a result of the planned expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This insight is among the key findings of a new Real I.S. AG study.

Between 2007 and 2017, container volumes at the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp grew by more than a quarter. “Given this rapid growth, the importance of the role played by supraregional logistics distribution centres close to these ports, so-called gateway logistics hubs, is increasing significantly”, explains Marco Kramer, Head of Research at Real I.S. AG.

The BRI has two overriding objectives: to revive historic trade routes between Europe and Asia and to open up new routes in order to accelerate economic growth across the Asia-Pacific area. The BRI is backed by investment of USD 900 billion from the Chinese government and state-owned Chinese companies.

The Chinese government has been making direct investments in infrastructure projects and acquiring shareholdings in port operating companies in order to equip them for increased shipping traffic. China’s shareholdings include stakes in the Western European ports of Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium), Bilbao and Valencia (Spain).

Gateway logistics ports offer enhanced capabilities for transferring incoming containers from ships to rail (commonly referred to as combined transport). Such transport capabilities are a key location advantage in the competition between ports to reap the benefits of China’s BRI. If European ports are analysed according to the criterion “proportion of containers that have arrived by sea and are being forwarded by train”, the German ports of Bremerhaven (46%) and Hamburg (43%) score particularly highly on the basis of data from 2017.

“China’s BRI will also connect Europe with Asia via entirely new routes, both by sea and land. As a result, we will see the emergence of new gateway logistics hubs in Europe, such as Trieste, Valencia, Duisburg, Nuremberg and Košice”, adds Kramer. Overland gateway logistics hubs are increasingly shifting to the east. While in recent years the geographic centre of Germany (Bad Hersfeld) and the geographic centre of Central Europe (Leipzig) experienced strong growth and attracted large numbers of logistics service providers, cities such as Budapest, Warsaw and Košice in Slovakia are likely to become more important in the near future.

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