Lianyungang Port links Kazakhstan with Pacific

By Chu Daye Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/6 22:38:39

B&R brings new opportunities, rising challenges: expert

Engineering vehicles for export to the Philippines await shipment at Lianyungang port in East China's Jiangsu Province in January 2017. Photo: IC

Graphics: GT

The Port of Lianyungang in East China's Jiangsu Province, a veteran in Eurasian land-sea links, is playing an even more important role in boosting bilateral trade between China and Kazakhstan under the China-proposed Belt and Road (B&R) initiative and Kazakhstan's Path to the Future policy, experts said on Tuesday.

The comments came as President Xi Jinping is scheduled to pay a State visit to Kazakhstan from Wednesday to Saturday and attend the 17th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State.

Kazakhstan aims to transform itself from a "land-locked" to "land-linked" country and serve as a land bridge between Asia and Europe, with the help of the Lianyungang Port, which handles 60 percent of the cargo business for Central Asian countries.

On February 5, Kazakhstan exported 720 tons of wheat to Vietnam. The grain traveled by rail, entering China via Alashankou in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and continuing to Lianyungang Port, where it was loaded onto ships for the final stage of its journey to Vietnam.

The event marked the first overland transfer of Kazakhstan-grown wheat via China, and the opening of a Sino-Kazakhstan grain transport passage,  China National Radio reported on the same day.

Compared with seaborne Australian wheat, the cost of Kazakhstan-grown wheat was $45 cheaper per ton, and the use of multimodal transportation shortens the travel time by 10 days.

It is estimated that about 500,000 tons of Kazakhstan wheat will be shipped to Southeast Asia this year, according to the report.

The passage is being made possible by the China-Kazakhstan Logistics Center built at the Port. 

An employee at Lianyungang-based KTZ Express, a multimodal logistics company that oversees the operation of the China-Kazakhstan Logistics Center, said on Tuesday that the wheat shipment was the only crucial cargo Kazakhstan has sent overseas so far this year, and outbound cargo from the country is low at present.

"Inbound cargo sent to Kazakhstan forms the bulk of shipments. This includes electromechanical products, electronic products and automotive spare parts. Most of the cargo originates in China, Japan and South Korea. These items are loaded onto trains at Lianyungang and travel nonstop to Kazakhstan, exiting China via Khorgas, and ending their trips in Almaty," said the staff member, who declined to be identified.

Besides wheat, there have been some iron ore fines, but exports from Kazakhstan, or Central Asian countries in general, are quite limited at the moment, the person said.

Officially called the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the B&R initiative was proposed in 2013.

Expert said that although total exports from Central Asian countries remain trivial, the B&R initiative has opened the door for more business in the future.

Zheng Ping, chief analyst of industry portal, said that Lianyungang was the Chinese pioneer of the Eurasian land bridge, but as the Chinese railway network expands, more cities are starting to establish their own connectivity between the Pacific and Europe, and the port's status as a veteran is challenged.

"Given Kazakhstan's small economy and the limited freight volumes, the significance of the port on trade shouldn't be exaggerated," Zheng told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"However, what must be realized is that wide international support for the B&R initiative has made it possible for industry players to tackle persisting problems obstructing the smooth logistics flow from China to Europe, such as different national standards. These efforts have greatly advanced the status of international multimodal transportation," he said.

With more being done to smooth the way for businesses, Lianyungang Port's value should be seen as more than just boosting China-Kazakhstan trade, and other countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt certainly could benefit from the development of Lianyungang Port.

The port has identified its function as one of serving all members of the SCO. In the first four months of the year, the port dispatched 192 freight trains to Europe bearing 187,000 tons of cargo, according to customs data.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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