Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


New shipping route to change world trade

17 August 2013, 16:48AFP

Shanghai -The maiden voyage to Europe by a Chinese merchant ship through the "Northeast Passage" will help the world's biggest exporter speed goods to market and is a symbol of Beijing's strategic ambitions in the Arctic.

The emerging Arctic Ocean shipping route north of Russia has been opened up by global warming and cuts thousands of kilometres (miles) - and many days - off the journey from China to its key European market.

A vessel owned by Chinese state shipping giant COSCO left the northeastern port of Dalian last week bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands, on a 5 400-kilometre (3 380-mile) voyage which state media said would take just over 30 days.

That is up to two weeks faster than the traditional route between Asia and Europe through the Suez Canal, according to COSCO.

"It's potentially going to change the face of world trade," said Sam Chambers, editor of SinoShip magazine.

"The Chinese will use the Arctic route in a very big way. It's all about having options, having alternatives in case of emergency," he said.

But China is also eyeing the Arctic for better access to resources to fuel the world's second largest economy, such as the natural gas reserves held by political ally Russia in the region.

China - which does not border the Arctic and has no territorial claim to any of it - also recognises the area's potential for scientific research and its strategic value as what one Chinese analyst who did not want to be named called "military high ground".

The commercial shipping route is currently only open for about four months a year as polar ice melting as a result of global warming makes it more accessible.

Three months ago, China gained observer status in the Arctic Council, a group of nations with interests in the region which is believed could hold rich mineral and energy resources.

The council's eight full member states are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

"The opening of the new shipping route indicates China is participating more in Arctic Ocean affairs," said Zhang Yongfeng, a researcher at the Shanghai International Shipping Institute.

The European Union is China's biggest export destination with 290 billion euros ($385 billion) in goods sold last year and COSCO, China's largest shipper, described the new service in purely commercial terms, saying it will slash shipping times, thus cutting costs and fuel consumption.

"The Arctic route can cut 12-15 days from traditional routes so the maritime industry calls it the 'Golden Waterway'," COSCO said in announcing the journey.

The company's 19 000-tonne ship Yong Sheng - which is carrying a mixed cargo, including heavy equipment and steel - is expected to pass through the Bering Strait later this month and dock in Rotterdam in September, it said.

"It will change the market pattern of the global shipping industry because it will shorten the maritime distance significantly among the Chinese, European and North American markets," Dalian Maritime University professor Qi Shaobin told state media.

But analysts said developing the route would take time - while lack of infrastructure raised worries over contingencies for potential emergencies.

"In the near term, the economic value for shipping is definitely not big," said Zhang, of the Shanghai International Shipping Institute. "The navigable period of the passage is relatively short... while the port and pier infrastructure along the route is incomplete."

China is seeking to grow markets in southeast Asia and Africa, so more trade might flow to the south, lessening the importance of the Arctic route, he added.

China's total foreign trade volume was $3.87 trillion last year.

But some Chinese estimates claim between five and 15% of the country's international trade could use the Arctic route within a mere seven years.

Tags china trade

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...