Chongqing a key rail link with world trade

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FOCUS - By SHADOW LI in Chongqing stushadow@chi­nadai­

Each day, train freight cars loaded with “Made in China” lap­tops, clothes, hats and me­chan­i­cal ma­chines pull out of Chongqing ’s rail­way sta­tion, bound for Europe. On the re­turn trip are Euro­pean au­to­mo­biles, wines and a wide ar­ray of dairy prod­ucts.

Chongqing — one of China’s four mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties di­rec tly un­der the cen­tral govern­ment and lo­cated in the south­west­ern re­gion where the Yangtze River meets the Jial­ing River — is the start­ing point of the ChongqingXin­jiang-Europe Rail­way, also known as Yu’Xin’Ou Rail­way, that links the sprawl­ing me­trop­o­lis with Duis­burg in Ger­many. The 11,179-kilo­me­ter rail line passes through Xi’an, cap­i­tal city of Shaanxi prov­ince, and Lanzhou, cap­i­tal city of Gansu prov­ince, and en­ters Kaza­khstan, Rus­sia and Poland be­fore ar­riv­ing in Duis­burg.

Tang Liangzhi, deputy Party sec­re­tary of Chongqing mu­nic­i­pal­ity, told Hong Kong and Ma­cao jour­nal­ists dur­ing a media tour of Chongqing that rail­way is the pre­ferred choice for freight trans­port as it’s safer and less ex­pen­sive. It would take just 12 days to reach Duis­berg from Chongqing — about one-third of the time taken by con­tainer ships — and costs only one fifth of the charges for air­freight.

So far, 21 main­land cities have fol­lowed Chongqing in ex­port­ing their goods by rail. The Yu’Xin’Ou Rail­way is the ear­li­est to go into ser­vice, with the most fre­quent ser­vices and the big­gest num­ber of stops in coun­tries along the route, ac­cord­ing to Tang.

The route, which started op­er­at­ing on March 19, 2011, is part of a grow­ing rail net­work con­nect­ing China and Europe along the “New Silk Road”. Two years later, an­other freight rail from Chengdu, cap­i­tal city of Sichuan prov­ince, to Lodz, Poland, also went into ser­vice.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics, 279 freight trains car­ry­ing cargo worth a to­tal of 18 bil­lion yuan ($2.7 bil­lion) to Europe had used the Chongqing-Xin­jiang-Europe Rail­way last year — an in­crease of 25 per­cent over 2015.

Tang said the rail link not only serves to pro­mote trade with other coun­tries, it strength­ens Chongqing’s co­op­er­a­tion with the world in many ar­eas, ben­e­fit­ing its ser­vice in­dus­try as well.

As the route ex­pands, it will help boost Chongqing’s sales, fi­nance, ac­count­ing and law sec­tors, ul­ti­mately form­ing a full ser­vices sys­tem, he said.

It has also given a lift to many other in­land in­dus­tries, par­tic­u­larly in the field of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. Last year, 58 mil­lion lap­tops were man­u­fac­tured in Chongqing, ac­count­ing for onethird of the world’s lap­top pro­duc­tion and mak­ing Chongqing the world’s big­gest lap­top manu- fac­tur­ing base.

Tang said the launch of the rail­way is also ex­pected to fur­ther pro­mote the Belt and Road (B&R) Ini­tia­tive as it will be­come a vi­tal link for ad­vanc­ing the China-led strate­gic pro­ject.

Im­ported Euro­pean goods, af­ter ar­riv­ing in Chongqing, will be trans­ferred by air to ma­jor Asian cities, in­clud­ing Bangkok, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, fur­ther low­er­ing trans­porta­tion costs.

Jovic Hui Wa, gen­eral man­ager of Bank of East Asia (China) Ltd, who is a Hong Kong res­i­dent work­ing in Chongqing, said Chongqing, sit­u­ated at a key junc­ture of the (B&R) route, en­joys ge­o­graph­i­cal ad­van­tages, as goods from the city can be eas­ily trans­ported to other des­ti­na­tions by road, air and wa­ter.

Hui said Chongqing’s suc­cess in re­struc­tur­ing its econ­omy has al­lowed the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to fur­ther de­velop its emerg­ing in­dus­tries, such as the fi­nance and au­to­mo­bile sec­tors.

How­ever, agric ul­ture still plays an im­por tant role in Chongqing’s econ­omy, with its long day con­di­tions and ex­ten­sive area. The city’s Wanzhou district is fa­mous for its oranges and tan­ger­ines. It has orange groves cov­er­ing about 360,000 hectares, pro­duc­ing 250,000 met­ric tons of the fruit an­nu­ally with a value of 880 mil­lion yuan. One par­tic­u­lar type of orange — which orig­i­nates from the Tarocco blood orange in Italy and is known for its fla­vor — has been par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar in the mar­ket.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhu Wenx­i­ang — who owns a farm grow­ing such oranges, the cur­rent pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity is still un­able to meet de­mand. His farm has 800 hectares of the Tarocco blood orange trees.

Zhu said they have teamed up with Taobao — the on­line e-com­merce plat­form of tech gi­ant Alibaba Group — to mar­ket the oranges. About 1,500 boxes of the oranges were sold out within three days.

Zhu hopes that with in­creased pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, the oranges will be sold in Hong Kong through China Re­sources Van­guard, one of the ma­jor sup­pli­ers.

“We hope to have the fresh oranges de­liv­ered to Hong Kong next year, and maybe later to other parts of the world,” he said.

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