© Khunaspix Dreamstime.
New year, new strategy. The Chinese are coming to Europe, with pockets stuffed full with kwai (cash), worth even more given the current weakness of the Euro and Sterling. Anyone who has repeatedly been through major European airports in the past 12 months will have noticed the increase in Chinese tourist groups hitting the continent’s attractions (and anyone who has travelled in China will recognise the penchant for travelling en masse; and if you haven’t, think about the Japanese tour groups of the 1980s and multiply it by 10).
In logistics, it appears to be the same, with Chinese firms eyeing up the Old World’s companies as they look to expand beyond their domestic market. And it now appears to be official policy, according to this report in IFW.
Attentive observers of the freight world will understand that this has already begun to happen. IFW lists a couple of examples, to which The Loadstar would add the frankly bizarre case of Allport’s Chinese subsidiary buying its parent (there is a long and fascinating tale behind that, replete with a cast of chippy antipodeans and vacillating management consultants, but it is for another time).
On the one hand it is easy to see how this is supposed to play out: Europe’s economies are crocked; its cash-rich logistics firms leak money, and those without sufficient exposure to other regions which still have growth, despair as the spectre of bankruptcy looms ever closer… until a Chinese counterpart comes to the rescue, and they all live happily ever after.
Except that simply changing the ownership isn’t going to do anything about the state of Europe’s economy – the new era of uber-austerity has consumers’ belts drawn so tight they can barely breathe; so Chen Deming’s implicit claim that this will help stimulate China’s exports doesn’t really hold water.
Unless, of course, Chinese logistics firms are expected to make a loss for the greater good of the country’s manufacturers, and their millions of employees – not a completely unusual strategy for China.
What would appear far more likely, however, is that Chinese logistics firms are to be used as economic bridgeheads for the country, as it seeks to expand its economic presence – real, on-the-ground, winning hearts and minds presence – into the developed world, having already covered much of Asia and Africa.
The Loadstar hasn’t seen it written elsewhere, but we have heard of plan called “China Gateway”, by which forwarders, port operators and other Chinese logistics companies are in negotiations with European – and American – ports to develop large port-centric facilities where vast quantities of Chinese goods are to be consolidated.
Which would be a welcome fillip for the European logistics industry, and a kick to the head of all these countries looking to reorient their economies towards exports.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.