It’s now official: China’s COSCO Shipping and the Port of Lianyungang have signed on to take a 49% cut of Kazakhstan’s epic Khorgos Gateway dry port. The deal was signed at the Belt and Road summit in Beijing on May 15 for an undisclosed amount.

Khorgos Gateway sits within the broader Khorgos Eastern Gate SEZ — a massive 600-hectare development area that is strategically positioned in Kazakhstan right on the border with China. Not long ago, the place was about as remote as it gets — being just a tick or two from the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility, the farthest point on earth from an ocean.

So why would the world’s largest marine logistics operator have any interest in a place that literally couldn’t be farther from the sea? The answer is found in the New Silk Road — the pell mell network of various international trade pacts, customs blocs, political endeavors, and mega-projects that are headlined by China’s Belt and Road initiative. The linking up of major players in China’s shipping industry with the Kazakh dry port shows the developing synergy between Kazakhstan’s Nurly Zhol infrastructure building program with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt.

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