Home China Russia, China Ink Pact On All-Year Shipping Via Arctic Sea Route

Russia, China Ink Pact On All-Year Shipping Via Arctic Sea Route

Arctic Sea Route: Russian icebreaker Yamal, Canadian icebreaker Louis S. St. Laurent and the US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea rendezvous after a chance meeting near the North Pole on 1 August 1994..

ST PETERSBURG: Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese shipping company to establish a year-round container line between the two countries via the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Russian President Vladimir Putin has talked up prospects for the Arctic corridor as Russia shifts its trade eastwards in response to Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

Rosatom said the agreement with China’s Hainan Yangpu Newnew Shipping Co. Ltd would establish a joint venture for the design and construction of container ships and the shared operation of the shipping line.

The agreement was signed on Thursday at Russia’s annual economic forum in St Petersburg. The event once drew top Western banks and executives, but now they largely hail from countries still friendly with Russia, including China.

Vladimir Panov, Rosatom’s special representative for Arctic development, said 12 voyages were planned for 2024 and the companies hope to ultimately ship up to 50 million tonnes of cargo each year.

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“Our main task is to build up to five Arctic-class vessels, which will allow the company to operate on the Northern Sea Route year-round,” Panov said.

Rosatom launched a joint venture last year with Dubai’s DP World to develop container shipping through the Arctic, a route made viable by the melting of Arctic sea ice due to climate change.

Panov said Rosatom had transported over 2 million tonnes of transit cargo in 2023, a “record” amount. “This year, we are now working with shippers, we can talk about a new record – we plan to transport up 3 million tonnes,” he said.

Chief executive and chairman of DP World Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said the NSR has proved to be a “game-changer” for shipping. Supply chain issues and geopolitical instability meant alternatives to traditional shipping routes were needed, he said.

“But you cannot sell something you don’t have,” bin Sulayem said. “The important thing is that this has to start.”

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In a career spanning over three decades and counting, I’ve been the Foreign Editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and The New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com.

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