Qingbaijiang district in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, has achieved outstanding results in its support for the Belt and Road Initiative and regional economic development. It has done so by making full use of Chengdu International Railway Port.
After starting operations in 2013, the China-Europe (Chengdu) Railway Express, departing from the railway port, now outperforms many of its rivals in China. It puts Chengdu at the forefront of opening-up among the country's inland regions.
The port has built a Chengdu-centered international rail network that connects to Europe, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
According to the district's government, trains departing from the port have traveled to 65 cities overseas, including Lodz in Poland and Nuremberg in Germany, as well as 20 Chinese cities.
In the first half of this year, the Chengdu route dispatched more than 2,800 freight trains. Among their cargo items, smart home appliances and electronic products contributed 68.35 percent of Chengdu's total export volume.
The China-Europe freight train service is recognized as a major channel for connecting global markets thanks to its high efficiency and stability, which benefits more multinational companies than ever.
Since 2016, TCL Technology Group, a home appliance producer based in Huizhou, Guangdong province, has transferred part of its production capacity to Chengdu and delivered its products to Europe through the China-Europe freight train. In 2020, TCL chartered an average of two freight trains a week to haul its deliveries to Europe, equating to a total of more than 4,000 containers of products throughout the year.
In May, TCL signed an agreement with Qingbaijiang district to invest 500 million yuan ($77.3 billion) into building a processing and manufacturing base for exports.
"The stability of the Chengdu route gives us strong confidence," said Song Shan, general manager of Sichuan Changhong Minsheng Logistics. "We will maintain a frequency of one or two dispatched trains a month."
As of last month, Sichuan-based manufacturer Changhong Group had chartered four trains to Europe, carrying smart home appliances such as refrigerators and LCD television components.
At the end of 2019, China's leading television manufacturer Konka Group launched an investment project for intelligent electronic devices in Chengdu's European Industrial City, a Europe-oriented industrial establishment in Qingbaijiang district. It marked Konka's first move into the European market. On June 25, Konka's first delivery of TV sets was dispatched to Europe via the China-Europe freight train.
According to Pang Shuangcheng, manufacturing director of Konka Group, its export are estimated to consist of more than 200,000 units and total output value is expected to reach more than 100 million yuan in the second half of this year.
In 2020, the Chengdu route transported goods worth 150.7 billion yuan into and outside of China, strongly boosting foreign trade in Sichuan.
Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the China-Europe freight train service has helped enterprises to restore operations across the country. In turn, countries and regions joining the BRI have been assisted in their fight and had an easier time recovering their economies. During the first quarter when the pandemic hit the economy hardest in 2020, the import and export value of Qingbaijiang district reached 3.61 billion yuan, up 70 percent on the previous year.
To meet the foreign trade demand of local small and medium-sized enterprises, Chengdu resorted to "market procurement trade", a new development pattern featuring low logistics costs, fast customs clearance and flexible foreign exchange management. This has simplified customs clearance process for local enterprises.
"In the past, it used to be difficult for individual merchants to qualify for foreign trade," said an official from the Sichuan Provincial Department of Commerce. "But now the export process through market procurement trade is smooth. And with the logistics network of the China-Europe Railway Express, it brings opportunities to merchants in small commodity businesses."
A China-Europe (Chengdu) Railway Express train carrying 50 containers of locally produced consumer goods including home textiles, clothing and daily necessities valued at 40 million yuan departed from Chengdu on July 22. Its route connects Longchang in Sichuan province to countries such as Poland, Hungary and Germany. Longchang has become the second city in Sichuan to enjoy benefits from the market procurement trade model.
The next focus of Chengdu International Railway Port will be strengthening its role as a key land port and improving the international supply chain.
The Chengdu-Eurasia National (Commodity) Pavilion has been put into use in Qingbaijiang district to demonstrate goods from countries taking part in the BRI, and features commodity exhibitions and cultural exchanges. French wine, German craft beer, leather goods made in Italy, maternal and children's products from New Zealand, Kazakhstan carpets and other products with national characteristics are showcased there.
According to an official at the port, the functionality of Chengdu International Railway Port has continuously improved. Efforts are being made to build a new generation of inland port with the integrated development of logistics, commerce, finance and information. The construction of a smart unmanned railway port is currently underway and the annual container handling capacity is set to reach 4 million 20-foot-equivalent units.
The construction of Chengdu International Railway Port Economic and Technological Development Zone, a national economic and technological development zone, was approved by the State Council this June. According to the development plan, it will better serve the BRI and play an important role as a transportation hub between Chengdu and Europe.
Yang Yuchang contributed to this story.
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