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The race for Chinese cities to jump on the China-Europe rail bandwagon has extended to Shenzhen, which will be connected to Minsk when the first regular train service rolls into the Belarusian capital in 12 days.
A train with 41 FEU on board, packed with higher value products such as mobile phones and spare parts for cars and machinery, left Shenzhen on May 22 for Minsk.
DHL Global Forwarding will manage the new 6,100-mile route with mainland logistics giant China Brilliant with which DHL signed a memorandum of understanding last year. The route covers overland connections to several major cities and is the latest in the DHL Asia-Europe-Asia multimodal network.
Offering less-than-container load and full container load, the service aims to serve the rapidly growing and evolving market demands for electronics, industrial and automotive parts, and fresh food in Eastern Europe and China.
"Eastern Europe's economies are growing faster than almost any others worldwide, with significant export opportunities arising from the region's rising wages and disposable income levels," said Steve Huang, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, Greater China.
"Minsk offers Chinese businesses an efficient gateway into the Baltic States and Nordic countries in addition to other major European destinations like Warsaw, Hamburg, and Tilburg via Brest.”
The new route will transit through the Alashankou-Dostyk rail juncture that already services several other flagship multimodal services, including rail connections from Chengdu, Zhengzhou, and Lianyungang to continental Europe. Real-time GPS tracking of containers and customs clearance will be offered for the entire Shenzhen-Minsk journey.
A total of 29 Chinese cities have direct rail routes to Europe using the southern route through Kazakhstan or the northern route through Russia. In addition to Shenzhen, regular rail services now run from China’s central city of Chongqing to Duisburg in Germany, and Yiwu in eastern China has services reaching as far as London and Madrid.
Zhang Chunhua, founder of China Brilliant Group, said trade growth was increasing between China and Belarus and the new service would cater to the needs of China's expansion-hungry manufacturers and producers.
As part of efforts to promote the Belt and Road initiative, the Chinese government reportedly plans to nearly triple the number of cargo trains running between China and Europe annually from 1,800 in 2016 to 5,000 in 2020.
But the host of new services being introduced cover the headaul and backhaul routes. Huang said in Shenzhen’s case, the economy of the huge Pearl River Delta city grew by 9 percent in 2016, and the direct rail link has enabled European exporters to connect with both Chinese consumer market and that of Southeast Asia.
“Our newest route further supports strategic infrastructure projects designed especially to support the Belt and Road, such as the Great Stone Industrial Park — the largest joint project between China and Belarus that will span decades … and also lays the groundwork for further rail connectivity to the Nordic and Middle Eastern states involved in the Belt and Road,” he said.
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The northern route through Russia is also developing fast. Russia's rail monopoly RZD is introducing new rail services between China and Europe via Mongolia as transportation providers angle to capture growing demand for China-Europe rail from small- and medium-sized shippers as some large shippers, such Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, shift more volumes to the mode. The new routes will mainly link the eastern Chinese provinces, including Shanghai, with Russia, according to a spokesperson for RZD.
This article first appeared on www.joc.com
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