A lack of connectivity is among the main issues to enhance regional integration and trade in Asia with ports being the intersections linking maritime and land routes. Their efficiency and functionality effects both importers and exporters. A strong network between ports is thus vital to efficiently facilitate the flows of goods between countries. Strengthening the quality and reliability of trading infrastructure such as harbors is crucial for achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries. It stimulates growth in productivity and income and reduces losses along the supply chains of products. It is also part of the Aid for Trade support for developing countries. Measures in this field contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (9.1, 8a, 12.3) which China, Germany and the ASEAN countries committed to in 2015.

To strengthen cooperation between ports of ASEAN countries and China, the China-ASEAN Port Cities Cooperation Network was inaugurated in 2017. The network offers the chance for lesser developed ports in Southeast Asia to profit from regional knowledge exchange and capacity building. The network meets once a year and brings together public and private actors from ASEAN and China port cities, academia, and maritime trade experts to deepen port cities cooperation and hinterland connectivity in the region.

As a follow-up of this year’s China-ASEAN Port Cities Cooperation Network Work Conference a first exchange and training course was held for 32 participants from seven ASEAN countries including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei from December 2nd until December 5th in Qinzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China.

The participants took part in lectures on proper port operation management, port connectivity, shipping safety and protection as well as smart and digital solutions to port construction and management by German and Chinese experts. The training was accompanied by field visit to the container centre of Qinzhou Port and the China-Malaysia Industrial as well as a shipping simulation operation laboratory.

The training was jointly organised by the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone Planning and Management Office of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the People’s Government of Qinzhou City of Guangxi, the Beibu Gulf University and the GIZ Support of Regional Economic Cooperation in Asia (SRECA) project implemented on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The training was organised as a pilot for triangular cooperation, in which China and Germany jointly support sustainable development for partners in ASEAN. It was the first pilot of its kind and very well received by the participants. GIZ SRECA and its partners from Guangxi will build up on this year’s experiences and feedback to further develop the training content for a second course in 2020.