China launches new sea routes to South America as trade booms
Published: Jan 04, 2024 10:34 PM
An aerial view of Dalian Port, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photos: VCG

An aerial view of Dalian Port, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Photos: VCG

A new sea shipment route connecting Dalian port in Northeast China's Liaoning Province and South America started operation on Tuesday, marking the opening of the first South American container ocean trunk line by the port, according to China Media Group.

The launch shows there's an active trade market between China and South American countries as well as strong growth momentum, Zhou Zhiwei, an expert on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The route serves multiple countries in a much wider region including Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador, with the total journey taking around 25 days. That's up to seven days faster than previous routes.

The route will enhance the connectivity between China's northeastern region and Latin American countries, and promote imports of cold-chain products including fruits and aquatic products by China, which is their key trading partner.

Tianjin Port in North China's Tianjin Municipality launched a direct route to South America on December 21, 2023, according to China News Service. Ten ships carrying 3,500 to 4,500 containers each will serve the route, transporting regional products such as shrimp, beef, tropical fruits, wine and grain from South America and China-made products ranging from glass and steel to bicycles and automobiles.

The expanding sea routes reflect strong trade flows between China and the region. In 2022, China-Latin America trade approached the $500 billion mark, maintaining a rapid growth for six consecutive years.

"China and Latin American countries have high economic complementarity, which generates ample room for foreign trade growth on both sides," said Zhou, noting that free trade agreements (FTAs) will accelerate the process. 

An FTA between China and Nicaragua took effect on January 1, and about 60 percent of goods in bilateral trade were exempted from tariffs. Tariffs on more than 95 percent of goods will gradually be eliminated, the Ministry of Commerce said on December 30, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Honduras, which established diplomatic relations with China on March 26, 2023 and launched negotiations toward a FTA, sees opportunities and development options within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"The number of sea routes between China and South America will increase as economic ties get closer. China has assisted and invested in infrastructure projects under the BRI in the region, and cooperation will facilitate cargo-handling capacity and benefit people on both sides," said Zhou.