“My crown I am, but still my griefs are mine. You may my glories and my state depose but not my griefs; still am I king of those.” (King Richard in Richard II)

Food trades in hands of China ? Geopolitics of a maritime superpower

It is well known. China is playing the “game of power” by investing in maritime assets. The country has invested billions of dollars in consolidating and increasing its own port network worldwide in a clear tentacular expansion. In a scenario with bigger ships, bigger infrastructures are required. China is controlling a number of these required ports, terminals and other related infrastructures.

In terms of investments, FT reports ; approximately USD 50 billion investments, involving 40 port projects are in process or are already finnished, some of those being: Tanzania (Bagamoyo ; USD 10 billion); Sri Lanka (Colombo & Habamtot USD 3 billion); Myanmar (Maday USD 2.6 billion); Australia (Newcastle, Darwin & Melbourne ; USD 2.3 billion) and Israel (Ashdod & Haifa ; USD 3 billion). Others in Europe are key strategic hubs, like Piraeus, Valencia, etc … Ownership level and range of asset investments vary. Taken together, port operations and holdings, Cosco Shipping, and China Shipping Terminal Development, all mainland companies, easily rival the top two global groups by container flow (the Singaporean PSA and HK based Hutchison Ports).

In other words, a number of “gates”  for volume cargo flows are in hands of the Chinese. This trend is growing and is “de facto” backed by geopolitics in an aim to control a good part of the global trade. Geopolitics are the main driver.

But , are food trades affected by this ? Of course they are. Reefer cargo traffics are shipped through many of these Chinese controlled terminal sor ports and/or shipped by the Chinese carriers.  Anyhow, differently to “dry cargo”, when dealing with most o fthe perishables, local sanitary rules are to be applied : These might be easing or, in contrary, handicapping said fresh and frozen cargo flows. This means that the local rulers, still have a say in food trades, for obvious reasons. The “game of power”  in food trades is not won by China. Local sanitary, logically together with other, like customs, etc may influence the fresh and frozen traffic flows.


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5-7 FEBRUARY 2020