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Duisburg's Strategic Port Expansion: Embracing China's EV and Solar Power Market

By RAN ZHENG|Nov 14,2023

Chongqing - Recently, in Neuss Port, Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, two gantry cranes efficiently handled containers on a China-Europe freight train. This year, most of these goods catered to China's "Double 11" shopping spree, including milk powder, electrical appliances, healthcare products, clothes, and shoes.

Containers were lifted at the Duisburg Port intermodal terminal on November 3. (Photo/ Long Fan)

Duisburg's new opportunities as a port transportation and logistics hub

About five kilometers upstream from Neuss Port, the Duisburg Port intermodal terminal awaits the arrival of a China-Europe freight train. To expedite operations, Yuxinou (Chongqing) Logistics Co., Ltd, the train's operator, has implemented a backup plan to load and start the train at Neuss Port.

"It is a brilliant plan, allowing us to operate the loading and unloading of two trains simultaneously. The coverage area includes most parts of Germany, Rotterdam, and Antwerp," said Nemesno, customer service manager of the Duisburg Port intermodal terminal.

Once defined by its heavy industrial structure, Duisburg underwent an urban transformation in the 1980s. With the closure of coal mines and steel factories, the city adapted by constructing a riverport along the Rhine River.

However, Duisburg's initial struggles to leverage its potential as a port transportation and logistics hub were evident, hindered by the declining competitiveness of modern industries in the Ruhr industrial zone. Launching the Yuxinou China-Europe railway express in Chongqing in 2011 opened new opportunities for Duisburg.

"Duisburg and China have been collaborating for ten years since the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) was launched," stated Sören Link, Mayor of Duisburg, at the New Silk Road Logistics Forum on September 21.

Chinese players investing in Duisburg generating thousands of jobs 

The Port of Duisburg offers a strategic advantage for the China-Europe freight train, with direct access to the Rhine River. Goods are transported along the river to bank areas or by train or truck to Belgium, Greece, and the Netherlands. Duisburg has evolved into a key hub for the BRI.

RTSB Group, an early European operator of China-Europe freight trains, has experienced significant growth in recent years. Their turnover increased from less than 400 million U.S. dollars in 2019 to 823 million in 2022.

The office of Yuxinou Germany GmbH. (Photo/ Yuxinou)

Yuxinou Germany GmbH, a subsidiary of Yuxinou company, is strategically located near the Duisburg Port. This branch, boasting the only overseas warehouse with property rights along the China-Europe freight train route, facilitates quick distribution to neighboring countries and regions.

With the frequency of trains increasing and the growing brand influence, numerous Chinese companies and organizations have recognized the market potential in Duisburg. The number of Chinese players investing in the city has increased from 40 in 2014 to over 120 today, generating thousands of jobs.

Lars Nennhaus, the director of Duisburger Hafen AG, the ownership and management company of Duisburg Port, emphasized the rising demand for transporting large items like electric cars and photovoltaic power modules from China, driven by Germany's energy transition.

Duisburg plans to construct a new port, envisioned as the world's first carbon-neutral port powered by solar and hydrogen fuels, to meet these growing demands. This expansion is expected to increase the capacity to one million TEUs per year.


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