Cargo trains drive closer into European industrial base

By Xinhua - Global Times Source:Xinhua-Global Times Published: 2019/9/10 18:18:41

Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe route increases efficiency, boosts international investment

Chinese-produced vehicles wait to be loaded into containers at the Changchun International Land Port in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin Province in June 2017. Photo: Xinhua

In the plant operated by the world's top auto-glass manufacturer Fuyao Group in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province, forklifts are busy transporting windshields into standard containers.

These windshields, designed for the medium- and high-end models of auto brand Audi, will be transported to Heilbronn, Germany, by Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe cargo trains before arriving at Audi's assembly plants there.

The return trip will carry auto components from Germany to Volvo's Daqing factory in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, which neighbors Jilin.

The China-Europe cargo trains have closely linked the old industrial base in northeastern China to manufacturing bases in Europe, and have led to increasing industrial cooperation, which is mutually beneficial and has contributed to the economies of both regions.

Advantaged cooperation

A cargo train loaded with containers carrying windshields, wooden flooring, activated carbon and auto components left Changchun on the night of September 5 to deliver the cargo to Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany along the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe route.

As an important project for Jilin's aim to join the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe cargo train line was launched in 2015.

The route begins in Changchun, exits China via Manzhouli, the largest land port on the China-Russia border, which is located in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and passes through Russia, Belarus and Poland before arriving at the terminus of Nuremberg, Germany.

It measures about 9,800 kilometers, and a single trip usually takes 14 days, saving more than 20 days when compared with sea transportation, said Wang Yue, chairman of the Changchun International Land Port Development Co (CCILP), which operates the cargo trains on the route.

The inbound trains carry imports of engines, gearboxes and steering shafts from Europe and outbound trains ferry exports of goods like windshields, brake pads and bearings made by Chinese companies.

Since the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe cargo train service was launched in August 2015, it has transported over 43,000 standard containers with a collective value of over 13.8 billion yuan ($1.94 billion).

Demi Ben, managing director of the CCILP, said that Changchun and some other northeastern Chinese cities are home to a number of top auto manufacturers and auto components enterprises, while Bavaria, where Nuremberg is located, is a major German automotive manufacturing base. The similar structure of the industrial clusters in northeastern China and the European country has paved the way for further cooperation.

The Nuremberg warehouse for the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe railway has been very busy since it was put into use in June 2018, said Demi Ben, who is in charge of the warehouse.

Auto components such as windshields and bearings from northeastern China are usually deposited in the warehouse for short-term storage and then sent to local business customers via a "door-to-door" service.

The Nuremberg warehouse has provided great convenience to small and medium-sized enterprises and has attracted plenty of local businesses in Germany to seek cooperation with Jilin enterprises, said Demi Ben.

Thanks to the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe cargo train route, Jilin Universal Machinery (Group) Co set up a research and development (R&D) center in Munich, which is adjacent to cities that are home to factories of top automotive manufacturers including Audi, Mercedes Benz and Porsche.

The Jilin Universal European R&D Center has cooperated with these automotive manufacturers on a number of projects, including the production of steering knuckles for Porsche Panamera in its China plants.

Currently, there are seven projects in development, including steering knuckles for Audi and a small auto part for Mercedes Benz, which together will bring a revenue of nearly 2 billion yuan to the company, said Li Jibao, chairman of Jilin Universal Machinery (Group) Co.

More opportunities

Along with the frequent trade and cooperation between northeastern Chinese provinces and Europe via the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe cargo trains, more and more European enterprises are setting out to explore the market in Northeast China.

Jiri Janku, start-up advisor and investor of Feedyou, an artificial intelligence service company from the Czech Republic, said at the just-concluded 12th China-Northeast Asia Expo in Changchun, "Compared with China's fast-developing big cities, small and medium-sized enterprises like us are more willing to seek business opportunities in Northeast China."

On August 19, the Sino-German joint venture FAW-Volkswagen put its new proving ground into use in the north of Changchun. 

The proving ground has five functional areas for durability, airbag effectiveness, high-speed loop, dynamic and performance testing, with 26 special test sections and 15 typical test sections in line with Chinese road conditions.

Qin Huanming, a member of the board of directors at FAW Group, said the completion of the new proving ground will further promote the transformation and upgrading of both FAW and Volkswagen, and will deepen cooperation between the two.

A new industrial park is being planned for Changchun. "Many German companies have shown their interest in our park," said Chen Zhen, an executive of the company which develops the park.

China's northeastern region now has two pilot free trade zones (FTZs) - one in Liaoning and the other in Heilongjiang. The newly established China (Heilongjiang) Pilot FTZ will undertake more market-oriented reforms to revive the region. 

With similar latitudes and industrial foundations, there is plenty of scope for cooperation in high-end equipment manufacturing, and the ice and snow industry, among other fields, between the Chinese industrial base and Europe, according to experts.  


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