Container ship on first China-Scotland direct shipping route starts return trip
Published: Aug 29, 2022 08:40 PM
A cargo ship docks at Greenock Ocean Terminal in the UK on August 27, 2022. It is the first vessel that arrives in the UK for the first China-Scotland direct sea shipping route. Photo: courtesy of Peel Ports Group

A cargo ship docks at Greenock Ocean Terminal in the UK on August 27, 2022. It is the first vessel that arrives in the UK for the first China-Scotland direct sea shipping route. Photo: courtesy of Peel Ports Group

The first container ship on the first-ever China-Scotland direct sea shipping route has embarked on its journey back to China, carrying a long list of Scottish products back to the Chinese market, underscoring the initial success of the new shipping line in boosting trade between China and Scotland despite global headwinds. 

The route links Ningbo-Zhoushan Port in East China's Zhejiang Province, Dongguan Port in South China's Guangdong Province - two major export hubs in China - with the UK's Liverpool and Greenock. 

The service will cut the shipping time by one-third from that of more traditional lines, Peel Ports Group, the operator of Greenock Ocean Terminal, told the Global Times on Monday.

The new route aims to cut the journey time to about 33 days by eliminating unscheduled port congestion delays in Rotterdam, and the route will be operated by six ships of about 1,600 standard containers per month.

According to details provided by Peel Ports, the ship arrived at Greenock port on Saturday and docked for about 12 hours. It finished all unloading and loading of goods, before it made its return to the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port.
Items carried by the ship to China included beer, confectionary, gin, paper, shortbread, water, oil, gas, machinery, and over 1 million bottles of whisky, in particular, Peel Ports said. 

Chinese goods unloaded from the first vessel included textiles, furniture, packaging materials, bathroom appliances, fitness equipment, beauty supplies, toys, Christmas decorations and footwear.

Jim McSporran, Clydeport director at Peel Ports, said that it is great to finally welcome this vital service to Greenock Ocean Terminal.

"We believe this partnership will prove to be a hugely positive development for businesses and customers, as well as boosting the wider supply chain, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners on this service in the coming months," said McSporran.

"We knew that China Xpress (Ningbo-Greenock route) was a service needed by many sectors, but still, we've been amazed at the level of immediate interest. Our direct trading link to China cuts through frustrating transshipment delays, which is a massive boost for Scottish businesses, and it can only help consumers in these difficult times," said David Milne, managing director of KC Group Shipping, one of the operators of the new shipping route.

Meanwhile, many Chinese freight bookers are keeping a close eye on the new shipping line amid port congestions in Europe.

"We will investigate this new route. If it can keep the current frequency and the journey time, we can try it. So far, we have no bookings for this route as we mainly cover shipments between China and Germany," a Yiwu-based logistics agent told the Global Times on Monday.

The agent noted that maritime ports in Germany are suffering from congestion, which increased the costs of sea shipping and extended the time to about 40-50 days.

The opening of the new route shows that it is in line with the fundamental interests of enterprises and that it is impossible for some British politicians to intervene in the operation of the economic market, or decouple from China on trade, Li Yong, deputy chairman of the Expert Committee of the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The UK has been seeking its trading position in Europe after Brexit. The opening of the new direct logistics route will help British ports increase their importance. It is also an optimal solution that enterprises came up with amid congestion at European ports," said Li.

Milne also called for the support of Scottish importers and exporters to safeguard the long-term future of the new service, as "it's been a phenomenal success for KC Group Shipping, but this is just the first of many journeys."