Train carrying $1.2 million worth of goods heads to Kazakhstan
Officials with Qingdao Customs supervise the shipment of containers at the logistics center on Feb 8. CHEN XINGHUA/FOR CHINA DAILY
A freight train loaded with 110 twenty-foot equivalent units of cargo departed on March 14 from Qingdao, Shandong province, headed for Almaty, Kazakhstan, and will arrive at its destination after 20 days.
The cargo, valued at approximately $1.2 million, includes palm oil and other plant oils from Malaysia.
The goods were shipped from Pasir Gudang Port, via Qingdao Port, then transported to the multimodal transport logistics center in the China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area before being sent to Almaty by train, according to Qingdao Customs.
Located in Jiaozhou, a county-level city administered by Qingdao, the demonstration area has a strategic geographical advantage as it faces Japan and South Korea to the east, Mongolia and Russia to the north, ASEAN to the south, and SCO member states to the west.
At present, it operates 20 international freight train lines, serving 54 cities in 23 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative and the SCO.
Jiaozhou Customs data revealed that 132 China-Europe freight trains departed from the area in the first two months of the year, carrying 10,800 TEUs, a year-on-year increase of 17.9 percent.
According to Du Zhaopeng, an official from Jiaozhou Customs, which is under the administration of Qingdao Customs, the freight train service to Central Asia was launched in May 2015 and ran once a week at first.
Du said that many companies were cautious about the freight train service when it was launched.
However, over the years, thanks to the development of the BRI and the demonstration area, the China-Europe train business has experienced rapid and high-quality growth.
According to Qingdao Customs, the freight trains are transporting an increasing number of products made in China, including mechanical equipment, home appliances, tires, and chemicals, while bringing back high-quality products such as ore, sheet material, food and wine.
Qingdao Customs data show that the import and export value between Qingdao and other SCO member states reached 11.8 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in the first two months of this year, an increase of 34.8 percent year-on-year.
Li Gang, executive deputy director of the administrative committee of the demonstration area, emphasized that the China-Europe freight train service has become a flagship program and symbolic brand for the BRI, saving logistics costs and contributing to low-carbon efforts, Li added.
According to Li, the cost of the train service is only one-fifth of aviation transportation, and the delivery time is a quarter of shipping services. Additionally, the average carbon emissions are only one-15th of aviation transportation and one-seventh of road transportation.