China sees trade value in landlocked Kazakhstan port

Khorgos Gateway is a landlocked port, but China sees great value in its potential.

China-based, state-owned shipping behemoth China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) has acquired a 49% stake in a landlocked port under construction in Kazakhstan, the New York Times reports. This happened at the heels of the company’s series of seaport acquisitions in Greece apart from other ports in the world.

This is said to be the first landlocked port that COSCO has poured investments into with the nearest ocean about 1,600 miles away. The port is noted to serve as a terminal for several railway tracks where warehouses are expected to line the road in this side of Eurasia. The report described the piece of property as a few steps short of remote, being found in the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility. This means that government(s) or any major stakeholder have to build roads and railroad tracks here for any economic activity to even occur in this part of the Kazakh desert.

There may be containers shipped to and from the port. But they will come mostly from trains, boosting a rail-based freight trade upon completion between Kazakhstan and China. As part of the much-publicized One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project spearheaded by the President of China, Xi Jinping, it deems to be one project that will trigger import-export trade in the region.

The port logistics hub is named the Khorgos Gateway. Chief executive Zhaslan Khamzin confirmed the port is being operated with help from DP World. The project has turned this arid desert into an oasis of economic opportunities.

And since it’s that uninhabited part of the desert that is transformed into a port logistics hub, it gave birth to a town named Nurkent. This is to serve as a livable community for anyone working in this port. Housing is provided for free. At the moment, 1,200 residents have moved into Nurkent with the community expected to swell up to 100,000.

According to Khorgos Gateway’s website, the dry port itself spans 129.8 hectares. This is integrated with the logistic zone, spanning 224.9 hectares. Its operator is the KTZE-Khorgos Gateway LLP Company. The company is described as a “branch organization of KTZ Express JSC.”

While under the management of KTZ Express JSC in cooperation with the Dubai-based DP World, much of the funding comes from its main investor, the Chinese government, as this is right at the border between China and Kazakhstan. This is a vast improvement to the area’s previous reputation as a military zone in the Cold War era when Kazakhstan used to be a territory of Russia.

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