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Interview: Italian port official eyes business opportunities from China's Maritime Silk Road

ROME, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Eyeing business opportunities from China-proposed Maritime Silk Road, Italy's port city of Trieste is adding more features so that it could serve as the gateway to the trade route, the port chief said.

"We are carrying out a project that has been talked about for the past 25 years, namely, that Italy must become a logistical platform for the Mediterranean Sea," Port Authority President and Vice President of the European Sea Ports Organisation Zeno D'Agostino told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Located in Italy's northeastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, this small city of about 200,000 inhabitants has been Italy's trade hub throughout history, and is now seeking to become the western end of the Maritime Silk Road -- a key section of the China-proposed Belt and Road for closer Eurasian connectivity.

The new industrial port now features direct road and rail access so containers can be unloaded and shipped much more efficiently. It is also expected to include a large quayside, a railway terminal, container deposit areas, offices, parking and a free zone that can be used not only for warehousing but also to assemble the goods.

Now Trieste is connected by rail with Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, and Slovakia, he added.

The key to a successful port, added D'Agostino, is not in the number of containers moved there, but in creating added value in relation to those containers.

The global container fleet is expected to grow 31.5 percent by 2019, and China "has taken on a dominant role" in the container shipping sector, according to the Trieste Port Authority's 2017-2019 Operating Plan. "In 2016, ...about one in two container movement took place in a Chinese port."

We want China's business, D'Agostino said, who has traveled to China on business trips at least 10 times. He cited a recent report showing that the Chinese market share of the container business is constantly growing.

His business strategy, D'Agostino said, is based on the notion of "winning without competing" -- meaning that Trieste doesn't want to fight for market share through fierce competition but rather create its own, entirely new market space


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