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Italy, China Establish Maritime Trade Lane Between Genova And Tianjin

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

26 November 2009

Italy and China have agreed to establish a secure trade lane for the transport of sea containers between Genova and Tianjin from January 1, 2010, in an effort to increase trade between the southern Europe and China.

Since the entry into force in April 2005 of the China-EU Agreement on Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance, the EU and China have deepened their cooperation to facilitate trade and to increase security, as well as to step up the fight against counterfeiting and commercial fraud. To that end, in September 2006, they signed a further agreement to establish "smart and safe trade lanes" between the two continents.

That scheme started in November 2007 with a pilot project focusing on sea containers transport between Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Felixstowe in the UK, and the southern Chinese port of Shenzhen.

An electronic examining and monitoring system for each container is used to minimize the risks of counterfeit goods and make the process of going through customs quicker and cheaper.

It was then expected that the pilot would be extended to other ports in the EU and China. The agreement between Genova and Tianjin, in the north-east of China, is the second such project. It is hoped that it will lead to increased trade, particularly for Italian exports.

The trade lane between the two ports has been promoted by the Italian Trade Commission, Societa Italiana per le Imprese all’Estero (SIMEST), Interporto Rivalta Scrivia and the port authorities of Genova, with the collaboration of the Italian Ministries of the Economy and Foreign Affairs.

It was confirmed that the project would benefit from an improved electronic system of control over the goods being transported by container. Through the application of the agreement between China and the EU, there will be only one customs check on the merchandise at the port of origin, involving considerable time savings.

As part of the project, there will be about EUR300m (USD450m) of new investment in the port of Genova to double its capacity from 2m to 4m containers, and there will also be a consequent increase to employment in the region. A Chinese delegation has also expressed interest in investing in the region of Liguria.

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