In the first decade of the 21st century, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries emerged as new markets in Europe as they strengthened their economies and political processes. This allowed them to open up to the global market, creating a fertile and competitive environment. In 2012, China discovered the untapped potential of the CEE economies and pursued 17+1 Cooperation. This Cooperation was signed by 17 CEE countries and China, as it aimed to enrich cooperations in transport, logistics, trade and investment. It even promoted cultural and academic collaboration between the countries.
After the signing of the Cooperation, there was a significant jump witnessed in the business between CEE an China. As compared to 2016, in 2017, there was a growth of 15.6%, with a trading volume of $67.98 billion. It was also reported in 2016, that almost $8 billion was invested in various aspects of the CEE economies. China, along with Serbia, is collaborating to construct the E763 International highway. Investments have also been made in Budapest-Belgrade railways. This number of projects and investment since then has only grown. Finally, the most profitable project has been the growth of China-Eu Rail in the CEE region.
With pressure on cities like Duisburg, Hamburg and Neuss, there became a need for more hubs to sprout in Europe. For this reason, the CEE region would be the most appropriate since it was a frontier to the EU for incoming traffic. The area offered many opportunities for rail terminals and ports. One of the significant players was Poland that established one of the busiest terminals in Malasziwicze. Poland has been an excellent example of the potential that rail along New Silk Road offers. So far, Poland has seen an exponential of the growth of China-EU rail in the past years. After from Malaszwice, the other central cities to rail freight are Poznan, Slawkow and Warsaw.
Other central CEE hubs that have been central transport hubs are:
1. Port of Koper (Slovenia)
2. Budapest (Hungary)
3. Bratislava (Slovakia)
4. Dunajská Streda (Slovakia)
5. Prague (Czech Republic)
6. Plizen (Czech Republic)
Apart from the ones mentioned, many more towns in the CEE region will emerge as hubs in the next few years. The CEE region now houses some of the states of the art intermodal terminals. These terminals usually see the collaboration of private and public sector. One such example is of the upcoming East-West Intermodal Terminal in Hungary. The private sector's involvement has allowed for the faster fruition of projects a smoother functioning and upkeeping of terminals.
With numerous upcoming projects, the CEE region has become fertile for business across the globe. In September 2021, World of Freight (WOF) Expo will be hosted in Bratislava, Slovakia. This exhibition will provide a large space for shippers, forwarders, producers, retailers, importers and exporters, industry experts to come together, exhibit their capabilities, find new solutions, and eventually support each other's business ventures.