Ningbo, 14 June (STA) - The operators of the ports in Slovenia's Koper and China's Ningbo have signed an agreement on cooperation to increase trade between China and central and eastern Europe. Slovenia's Luka Koper thus officially became a part of the China-led initiative for the new Silk Road.
Luka Koper CEO Dimitrij Zadel and Ni Chenggang of the Ningbo port signed the deal as part of an international Maritime Silk Road Port International Cooperation Forum, which concluded in Ningbo on Thursday.
The goal is to increase the number of ship connections to boost trade between China and central and eastern Europe, which conducts most of its overseas trade through Luka Koper, the port operator said in a press release.
Trade between the ports in Koper and Ningbo exceeded two million tonnes last year, with the amount of exports matching the imports, which Luka Koper sees as a good foundation for future cooperation.
The deal signed in Ningbo stresses the importance of intermodal links, as the cargo that arrives in a port must reach the end buyer as soon as possible.
Zadel said the Chinese partners had recognised the strategic location of the Koper port and its excellent connections to other landlocked countries near by.
"On average, as many as 70 cargo trains connect Koper with the largest business centres in the countries of central and eastern Europe every day.
"Luka Koper is interesting to Chinese partners precisely because of the fact that two-thirds of goods are transshipped in Koper to meet the needs of landlocked countries," he said.
He thanked the Infrastructure Ministry, the Slovenian Embassy in Beijing and the consulate in Shanghai for help.
Ningbo Zhousan Port Group, whose representative is Ni, is the biggest port operator in Zheijang province. The group's transshipment last year reached almost a billion tonnes.