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The Arctic Institute: The Future of Arctic Shipping: A New Silk Road?

Author: Malte Humpert
November 2013

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"Arctic shipping will remain of limited importance to China, as it will for the rest of the world. Future shipping in the Polar region will mostly consist of seasonal destinational transport, delivering supplies into the Arctic for its increasing economic activity and transporting the region's natural resources to markets in East Asia."

Every time Arctic sea ice extent reaches a new record low, as it did in September 2012, a host of new reports and studies predict a rapid increase in shipping activities in the Arctic. Expectations are high that Arctic shipping routes, particularly the Northern Sea Route (NSR), will rival traditional shipping routes and complement the Suez Canal route as a key waterway for trade to and from Asia by the middle of this centruy.

One of the drivers of Arctic shipping, as the logic goes, is China's rapidly growing interantional trade. As China aims to diversify its trade routes and reduce its dependence on trade passing through the Strait of Malacca, the Arctic offers an alternative and shorter route to conduct part of its trade.

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