Rail drives cross-bor­der e-com­merce

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By XIN­HUA in Chongqing

Fif­teen days after de­part­ing Chongqing in south­west­ern China on Sept 29, 139 parcels ar­rived in a pro­cess­ing cen­ter in Frank­furt for de­liv­ery to peo­ple across Ger­many. The pack­ages in­cluded stor­age boxes, stuffed toys and Chongqing lo­cal spe­cial­ties.

Though the parcels were few in num­ber, their de­liv­ery marked the suc­cess­ful test of mail de­liv­ery via the Chi­naEurope rail­way sys­tem. Cross­bor­der e-com­merce plat­forms such as DHGate have been no­ti­fied to pre­pare for an­other test, dur­ing which their prod­ucts will be sold and shipped toRus­sia andGer­many via the rail­way.

The past few years have seen bur­geon­ing sales in cross-bor­der on­line shop­ping, but tra­di­tional sea and air postal routes have ham­pered its ex­pan­sion.

China’s to­tal vol­umes in trans­ac­tion cross-bor­der e-com­merce reached 5.4 tril­lion yuan ($810 bil­lion) in 2015, up 28.6 per­cent year-onyear, said a re­port is­sued by China e-Busi­ness Re­search Cen­ter.

Global trade growth has been slower than eco­nomic growth­for four years, butcross­bor­der e-com­merce has grown quickly be­cause it has re­duced trad­ing costs and stream­lined the in­ter­na­tional trad­ing chain, said Lu Pengqi, deputy head with the China Coun­cil for the Pro­mo­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade at the 19th China In­ter­na­tional Fair for In­vest­ment and Trade in Septem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to the mu­nic­i­pal rail­way au­thor­ity, a par­cel sent from Chongqing will ar­rive in Ger­many at least 20 days faster via China-Europe reg­u­lar trains than by sea. The cost is just one-fifth of that by air, mak­ing the train highly cost-ef­fec­tive.

How­ever, a 1956 con­ven­tion passed by mem­bers of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Co-op­er­a­tion be­tween Rail­ways pro­hib­ited mail de­liv­ery through in­ter­na­tional rail­way cargo trans­port. In early June 2014, the OSJD fi­nally deleted the re­lated clause.

Dur­ing a postal ser­vice fo­rum in April in­Chongqing, a dec­la­ra­tion was made to guar­an­tee in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in mail ser­vices— via the China-Europe rail­way — and to pro­vide road routes com­pat­i­ble with cross-bor­der e-com­merce.

Fol­low­ing the dec­la­ra­tion, in May Chongqing be­came China's first pilot city ap­proved by the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms to run the China-Europe rail­way mail ser­vice. Chongqing-Xin­jiang-Europe reg­u­lar cargo trains were as­signed to carry out the ser­vice.

Ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial at the Chongqing Cus­toms, the Chongqing-Xin­jiang-Europe rail­way trans­ports nearly 50 per­cent of freight from China to Europe ev­ery year.

The vol­ume of cross-bor­der e-com­merce in the city ex­ceeded 6 bil­lion yuan last year, up from 60 mil­lion yuan two years ago.

The test run also high­lighted in­no­va­tions in man­age­ment. Im­proved “smart” cus­toms locks were used for mon­i­tor­ing parcels and fa­cil­i­tat­ing clear­ance at the de­par­ture, the trans­fer de­pot and exit. It was the first time Chi­nese cus­toms of­fi­cials and the postal ser­vice shared data.

The China-Europe rail­way mail ser­vice has adopted elec­tronic cus­toms clear­ance, rather than man­ual clear­ance, al­low­ing the parcels to re­main un­opened and stay on the same train for the en­tire trip.

LIU CHAN / XIN­HUA

A worker di­rects a cargo train re­turn­ing from Europe into the sta­tion in Chongqing. The Chongqing-Xin­jiang-Europe rail­way is driv­ing the fast growth in cross-bor­der trade.

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