Chinese ports see surging trade with SE.Asia during holidays, signaling robust growth in 2023
Published: Jan 29, 2023 07:16 PM
Photos: Courtesy of He Xingyu

Photos: Courtesy of He Xingyu

During the just-concluded Chinese New Year holidays, the first after China moved to resume normal operations at border ports, several major ports in Southwest China's Yunnan Province saw surging trade activities with various neighboring countries, including Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, according to local officials and traders.

The busy scenes at the border ports are the latest sign that China's trade with Southeast Asian countries will likely continue to maintain high-speed growth in 2023 after a 15-percent rise in 2022, experts noted.  

A truck loaded with raw materials for traditional Chinese medicine left Muse, Myanmar and entered Ruili, Southwest China's Yunnan Province on Friday, without switching drivers, the Global Times learned from the Ruili entry and exit border administration on Sunday, showing that cargo operations at the checkpoint have returned to pre-epidemic standards.

Ruili port is using a simplified customs clearance process, which has greatly lifted the speed, border crossing officials and traders said.

Communication between joint inspection units and enterprises can help ensure "zero waiting" and "zero delays" in the inspection process.

Requirements for sectioned transportation, driver changes and static disinfection were removed at border crossings in Yunnan, which greatly reduced the time and costs for foreign trade companies, a manager surnamed Yang from Yunnan JieRui Freight forwarding Co told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Border crossings operated non-stop during the Spring Festival. It is a good start and we expect a significant lift in trade volume in late February," Yang said.

Photos: Courtesy of He Xingyu

Photos: Courtesy of He Xingyu

The Ruili port is one of the busiest China-Myanmar border crossings, and it's crucial to trade. In 2019, total cargo volume through Ruili port exceeded 17.45 million tons worth nearly 100 billion yuan ($14.74 billion), accounting for about 80 percent of the province's volume with Myanmar.

Cross-border trade with other Southeast Asian countries also increased during the holidays.

According to Customs authorities in Kunming, during the Spring Festival (January 21-27), Kunming Customs approved 68,400 tons of international freight via the China-Laos railway, up 237 percent compared with 2022.

Major Chinese exports include textiles, steel, hardware and small household appliances, while imports to China include iron ore, cassava starch and crude lead ingots.

The Hekou border crossing, the largest port on the China-Vietnam border in Yunnan, recorded its first peak of passenger and cargo trade this year, with streams of Chinese and foreign tourists buying Spring Festival goods, visiting relatives and friends, and conducting business negotiations.

The border station approved more than 9,000 passenger visits, 750 freight vehicles, 10 freight trains and more than 11,000 tons of cargo from January 21-26.

China's trade with Southeast Asian countries should be able to maintain strong growth in 2023, following a major role in stabilizing China's foreign trade last year, Huo Jianguo, vice president of the China Institute for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Chinese products may have relatively greater export potential to countries like Laos and Myanmar. As these countries enjoyed relatively good economic development in recent years, they need more daily consumer goods from China," Huo said.

China's foreign trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grew 15 percent year-on-year in 2022, the first year the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was in effect, and the region remained China's top trade partner.

China's total trade with ASEAN came to 6.52 trillion yuan in 2022. Exports reached 3.79 trillion yuan, an increase of 21.7 percent, and imports made up 2.73 trillion yuan, up 6.8 percent, the General Administration of Customs said.