Peter Yu. Samoylenko
Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Moscow
Abstract: The article analyzes the problems of forming the image of Primorsky Krai as a transit Eurasian logistics hub that performs strategic tasks within the framework of Russian economic integration into the Asia-Pacific region. The author considers such important components as the seaports of Primorsky Krai, landtransport and logistics infrastructure and other components that affect the increase in the processing and transit of goods through the territory of the region in the direction from Asia to Europe and vice versa. At the same time, such aspects as the image of the largest seaports of the region – Vladivostok, Vostochny and Nakhodka are the most important ones. There are also equally important things, such as region’s designation as a territory associated with global transport logistics with real opportunities for increasing transit cargo traffic and developing the economy in adjacent sectors.
Keywords: seaports; shipping; media; images; maritime transport and logistics; cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region; maritime education; Arctic projects; container services; brands; maritime security; transit logistics; cargo turnover; synergistic effect in the economy; free port of Vladivostok
The initial idea about formation of the strategy for the international Eurasian transport corridor through the territory of the Russian Far East dates back to the 1970-80s. In fact, at that time it was the part of the region’s general development strategy.
There were several reasons for this. On the one hand, it was precisely in the 1960s and 1970s that active development of natural resources in Siberia and the Far East took place, new deposits were discovered, and access roads to them were being built. And these resources were in demand both in domestic and in export markets. There was also a gradual industrial development of the region, an increase of its population, As an example we can recall the active development of such logistics hubs as Nakhodka, which also took place during this period.
On the other hand, at that time in the Asia-Pacific region a number of economies (called later as “Asia tigers”) were actively developing – Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea. All these countries steadily increased the consumption of raw materials, supplied by the Soviet Union to world markets. That is why, taken together, these factors have led to the creation of transcontinental transport corridor across our territory – along the Trans-Siberian Railway through the ports of southern Primorye. Moreover, part of the port facilities, for example Port Vostochny, were originally built specifically for large-tonnage export of such goods as coal, timber, grain, metal, and fertilizers.
Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, large-scale changes took place in Pacific Asia. This had reflected on regional trade processes and led to an increase in transit traffic through the Russian territory in the opposite direction – from East to West. The main reason was the overall increase in the flow of finished consumer goods, that is, goods transported in containers. The fact is that by the end of 20th century due to the world division of labor and active globalization in Southeast Asia and North Asia there appeared and concentrated a lot of assembly plants (electronic and household appliances, consumer goods). Such powerful economies as Japan and the Republic of Korea were pushed aside and supplemented by the “world workshop” – China, as well as Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. In fact, this trend continues today, and we may expect that the next “echelon” of new industrial economies in the region will consist of such countries as Vietnam and Indonesia. Thus, the transfer of a certain volume of industrial production of consumer goods to the Asia-Pacific continues in the 21st century, and such situation will be going on for a long time in future. Accordingly, the volume of cargo transportation to various directions including Europe, Western Asia etc. will only increase, and, most notably, these cargoes may be delivered from Asia-Pacific to Europe through the Russian territory.
The today’s situation is a further development of this strategy, of course, with inclusion modern realities, for example the policy of “Turning to the East” , The fundamental difference here is that the traditional export of resources through the Russian ports should include also the export of products with high added value, to put it simply – finished goods, not raw materials. And they may be produced here. From the raw materials that are extracted and processed in this region.
At the same time, the demand for resources and even finished products in the Asia-Pacific has only intensified in recent years, because the economic growth rates in Asia-Pacific countries reached their maximum in 2000s and 2010s… Therefore, today we indeed see some kind of continuation , natural development of a fifty-year- old strategy, which at the same time has been significantly changed and modified. 
Among the factors which increase the importance of these logistic routes there are the ongoing economic development of economies in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia and a further expanding of cargo traffic in this direction . There is a clear trend – the demand for inter-modal transportation according to the scheme “from sea to land” scheme, when the cargo is transported according to single consignment from the point of departure to the point of delivery by sea and by railroad as part of a sustainable transport service without a large number of counter-parties . Another indicator in favor of our abilities to handle containerized cargo is gradual construction of sea container terminals in the ports of southern Primorye. Their number is steadily increasing, and this trend is visible, as they say, “with naked eye”. A vivid example is the seaport of Vladivostok, within which several container terminals are already operating today. To our mind, in the future, the logistics international transport corridor through Primorye will develop even more actively, at least if we take into consideration economic conditions and the competitive advantages of this territory.
Thus, if we look at the history of the economic development of the Far East, we will see that maritime logistics and port infrastructure have traditionally been the basis for the region’s development. Such large seaports as Vladivostok, Nakhodka and Vostochny were focused on domestic cargo traffic or for export- import operations, that is, they served as a “gateway” within international transport and logistics corridors. Even in 1990s – a time of constant recession and the maximum “distance” of the Far East from the center of Russia – the Far Eastern ports were not empty and worked to ensure foreign economic activity. Later, already in 2000s, there occurred a new rise of prosperity, which is obvious today – the cargo turnover of the ports has significantly expanded, new services have appeared. In general, the situation has been influenced by the Russian more deep integration into the Asia- Pacific and by the projects of the “Eastern vector”. Therefore, the non-market environment (primarily anti-Russian sanctions) which has the impact on the industry today will be also affecting it in future, but it is unlikely radically change the role of this sector for economy. Moreover, to a certain extent, this is a new “window of opportunity”, a chance to change something, to make the region’s economy more efficient. Maybe to find new partners. All this will be gradual, but it will be, and we will inevitably see the results.
In general, if we consider the situation with container transit through the Trans-Siberian Railway and the ports of Primorye Region, we will see that historically this direction began to develop from the beginning of 1970s. Even then it was clear that the balance of foreign trade between Europe and the advanced Asia-Pacific economies (which at that time began to be called “Asian tigers”) would steadily grow in the future for at least several decades. It was in the 1970s than such ports as Nakhodka and Vostochny began to develop in the Far East, and initially they were largely focused on handling transit cargo traffic in the Euro-Asian direction. Already at that time, the ships of Far Eastern Shipping Company (FESCO) were operating on lines between the ports of Southern Primorye and the countries of Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia. As well, new container ships began to be put into operation. At the same time, the container traffic at the end of 20th century gradually increased, and the further events showed the correctness of economic forecasts of the late 1960s and early 1970s about the prospects to expand cargo flow. Also it should be noted that during the same period started the powerful development of well-known Asian seaports of international level, which occupy a large space in the processing of container transcontinental cargo traffic – these are such harbors as Busan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.
In modern conditions it is quite obvious that the range of cargo traffic is changing from raw materials in favor of container services. They are much more marginal and have great prospects for loading logistics corridors through Primorsky Region from East to West (in the opposite direction go mainly raw materials). The volume of hydrocarbon exported by sea is also stable or even growing.
If we talk about the specifics of container services, especially in international transport logistics, then we should note such characteristic features and requirements as the efficiency of processing, the need for the safety of goods, as well as minimizing of cargo delay at any stage of delivery by sea or by land. Since high value-added goods are transported in containers, and perishable products are transported in refrigerated containers, the entire logistics infrastructure should be oriented so that such goods pass according to priority as quickly as possible. For commercial seaports, the processing of containerized cargoes is very profitable, since the cost of their processing per cargo unit is much higher.
(End of introductory fragment)