China embraces ‘steel camel’ to transport goods to Europe


Chinese manufacturers are trying to overcome shipping delays by exporting their products by land as European demand increases due to the rapid growth of transcontinental rail transport.

The country’s rapid recovery from the epidemic has helped it dominate global trade in the second half of 2020, with lockdowns fueling foreign appetites for its products, ranging from electronics to home appliances.

However, the pressure at sea and in transit Lack of container According to businesses and firms, land exports to Russia and Central Asia have become an attractive option.

In the first two months of this year, more than 2,000 freight trains ran from China to Europe, more than doubling the rate of coronavirus reduction a year ago. According to official data released by state media, for the whole of 2020, the total number of train journeys has increased by 50 percent – and it has increased sevenfold since 2016.

Nina Fang, a saleswoman at a practice equipment company in Yanu, said her business is usually exported by sea. But prices have been “skyrocketing” since the middle of last year and transport times have doubled, prompting him to start switching to rail.

“Our main clients in Europe, such as France and Germany, have complained that transportation efficiency is very low [and] So that they can reconsider with other exporters, ”he said. “Now we rely heavily on China-Europe Express to deliver our goods.”

According to Eurostat, by 2020, China has overtaken the United States to become the EU’s largest trading partner in commodities. Information, Total imports from China increased by cent percent to € 384 billion (4 454 billion).

A small fraction of the total volume of railway cargo remains. The port of Yangshan near Shanghai alone processed about 25 meters of containers in January, compared to a total of 209,000 containers by rail in January and February.

But the recent jump in land transport from east to west comes against a backdrop of deadly setbacks on container vessels, one of which was blocked this week. Suez Canal After running the estate.

This has been unexpectedly facilitated by the Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing’s international infrastructure strategy emphasized the symbolism of the “steel camel” and encouraged Chinese provinces to subsidize the cost of cross-border rail transport.

China Railway Express, a state-backed company, added freight routes to cities such as Madrid and London by 2017, although they usually rely on existing lines.

“When Belt and Road was launched [in 2013]”A lot of the conversations were near the railways,” said Agatha Kretz, an analyst at Rhodium Group, who pointed to the “public relations” of train transport. He added, “They were running because of the huge grants they received from the municipality.

Provinces have recently invested in transportation, especially for items in high demand during lockdowns. In February, a train from Jiangsu Province was sent to Moscow on a 15-day journey loaded with 50 vehicles carrying washing machines and other equipment.

Small port companies Export service providers Specialists in the major port cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen say some of their clients are relocating to rail transport.

“Lockdown electronic products, fitness equipment and covid-related products will now choose ground transport. They are in high and urgent demand, and they are. . . “Not suitable for air transport,” said Fiona Wang, an agent in Shanghai, who also spoke of delays in shipping.

“Although China-Europe express capacity has continued to increase, it is still not enough,” he added.

Another Shenzhen agent said 20 to 30 percent of its clients have shipped by sea and the crisis of damaged containers on shipping routes is also affecting land transport.

He added that he hoped clients would eventually return to shipping routes once the global epidemic was brought under control. “The current market is unusual,” he said.

Additional report by Wang Jiukiao of Shanghai and Kiana Liu of Shenzhen



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