The Vienna Chamber of Commerce is concerned that Austria is missing out on the opportunities created by BRI connectivity
“We are only a spectator and the cargo volume via the new Silk Road on our corridors is increasing monthly," said said Alexander Biach, Deputy Director of Wirtschaftskammer Wien (Vienna Chamber of Commerce). There will be a time when it is too late to join and the cargo flow will find other ways and bypass Austria.”
He said a Russian broad gauge link is urgently needed into the Vienna region. This is not as far-fetched as it may seem, as Russian gauge currently runs as far as Košice in the eastern part of Slovakia, and a large multimodal hub is being developed here with BRI finance. The tracks would have to run east-west through Slovakia, Austria’s eastern neighbour, and would therefore require a bilateral Austro-Slovakian agreement.
The point is that Sino-European rail traffic could run all the way between Vienna and Khorgos, the gauge break and major inland port on the Sino-Kazakh border. If Košice is the main gauge break in South East Europe, it could eventually eclipse Vienna as a rail hub.
“With the wide track railway we could reclaim the distribution function for Central and Eastern Europe that we gained after the fall of the Iron Curtain," said Biach. Without connectivity, Vienna could lose its status as a main hub, he warned.
The chamber is presently preparing for membership to the global C6 Chambers of Commerce grouping. Business chambers from Beijing, Berlin, São Paulo, Paris, London and Moscow are already members. The next C6 meeting will be held in Beijing in early May.