Saturday, June 20, 2020

NEWS from Maritime Economics & Logistics (MEL)

As MEL is moving into its third decennium, we take pride in launching two high-profile projects, mapping somewhat our history and our contribution to the development of maritime research during the past two decades.  

Professor Adolf K.Y. Ng of the University of Manitoba (Canada) will be working on the history of our PhD Competition (launched in 1999). He aims to acknowledge not only all persons who have been involved in those unique events, but also to trace the career development of our winners and the way MEL has contributed to their advancement.

rofessor Thanos Pallis of the University of the Aegean (Greece) will be developing a similar project, this time tracing the recipients of the MEL-Palgrave Macmillan Springer Prize for best IAME Conference paper, awarded each year at the annual conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME).

With years, memories weaken and records and archives might prove to be incomplete. We would be grateful therefore if ‘maritime economists’ and of course anyone else who has been involved in any of the two projects, and in possession (or recollection) of interesting anecdotal information of any type, to contact Adolf, Thanos or me. Their assistance will be duly recorded in the two projects. 


Thursday, June 18, 2020

China-India tensions: A game of chess?

Admiral James Stavridis (author of the Bloomberg article, link below) is a wise man and his article is exquisitely written and worth reading. I wouldn’t agree with parts of it however. I read: […]One Belt, One Road has one big problem: India, which sits athwart the trade lanes China wants to use to dominate in the 21st century. In that sense, the Himalayan dispute is about control of the Indian Ocean[…].
We have addressed all these issues in our (with Olaf Merk) forthcoming Working Paper (already on the website of ITF-OECD). Assuming naval control was indeed the issue, the Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal) could be much more effectively controlled through China's investments in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, rather than from the Himalayan plateaus, 5 km above sea level! And it is precisely for this reason India has deployed her navy in the Andaman Sea (Andaman and Nicobar islands), outside the Hambantota-Kyaukpyu notional line that connects the two ports (in Sri Lanka and Myanmar respectively), and, in her view, in a way 'fences off' the Bay of Bengal.
Instead, we believe the ‘message’ of the current Himalayan tensions to PM Modi is a different one: “If you want a good neighbor who doesn’t put his music too loud in the evening, please don’t get too much in bed with the US”.
That simple.
Here is the Bloomberg article of Admiral James Stavridis
Here is our OECD paper

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Dovetailing European and Global Transport Infrastructure Networks

When China’s president Xi Jinping visited Rome and Brussels last year, many politicians expressed to him their concerns about China’s investments in ‘strategic’ sectors, such as ports. Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella was crystal clear in voicing these concerns: «we are deeply Europeans», he said, «we have our own plans» (NB: apparently referring to Trans European Transport Networks- TEN-T), «to which we fully adhere, and we are nations living under the rule of law. These said and out of the way, we are open to discuss with you anything you like». 

President Xi’s answer came the following day in Brussels: «It is not China’s intention to cause problems and disrupt your infrastructure plans; on the contrary, we wish to work “with” you and dovetail those plans with our Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), so that win-win outcomes are achieved in the end».

With Paolo and Roberto we thus decided to write this paper, meant as a ‘roadmap’ towards a revision of our European transport network, dovetailing two extremely complex systems: Our Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The reasons that made us believe such an undertaking would be worth its salt were: a) TEN-T will be revised in three years (2023) anyway; b) Europe’s economic center of gravity moves towards its eastern end; c) it is Europe’s eastern end too that attracts China’s interest, as evidenced by its investments in the port of Piraeus, as well as in Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Baltic States. I am not sure if we achieved our objective. It would be rather na├»ve anyway to believe that issues of such complexity could be addressed comprehensively through a short paper. At any rate, though, we believe that a step in the right direction has been taken, even in the form of ‘advice’ to policy makers in Europe and China. 

HE Haralambides
June 2020

Costa, P., HE Haralambides and R. Roson (2020) ‘From Trans-European (Ten-T) to Trans-Global (Twn-T) Transport Infrastructure Networks. A Conceptual Framework’ in: Francesco Saraceno and Floriana Cerniglia (eds) ‘A European Public Investment Outlook’. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Oliver Blanchard said about the book: […]Let’s stop being penny wise and pound foolish. Read the carefully argued set of essays contained in this book, and you will understand why increasing public investment is a high priority…(Olivier Blanchard: Robert Solow Professor of Economics Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).