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Belarus is to gain sustainable development of China-Europe Railway Express

2021-07-07 11:06:00 Source: Author:
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By H.E. Yury SENKO Ambassador of Belarus to China




The year 2021 is also a landmark year for China and its friends. It marks the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, as well as the beginning of the 14th five-year plan for the formation of a new development architecture and the implementation of the concept of "Double Circulation". Undoubtedly, the partner countries will also receive a new impetus for development. As they say in China: "when there is water in the main river - and there is water in the tributary, when there is no water in the main river - and the tributary is dry."

China's success is now evident. It is the world's largest growing economy. China was the first in the world to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, in 40 years of reform and openness, China has overcome poverty – achievement that many countries have been striving for centuries.

The Republic of Belarus is a beautiful and hospitable country, known in China for the friendship of the presidents, favorable geographical location, heroic history, unique nature, high-quality products, the Chinese-Belarusian Industrial Park "Great Stone" and other large-scale joint projects.

In less than a year, it will be celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Belarus and China. During this time, our countries have managed to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and show by concrete examples that we can effectively cooperate in politics, in the economy, and in humanitarian areas.

In the course of countering the COVID-19 challenges, the relations between Belarus and China have shown themselves to be exemplary. By the personal order of President Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus was the first country to send 2 aircrafts with humanitarian medical aid to the People's Republic of China. Subsequently, medical supplies were delivered from China to Belarus, including assistance from the government, 20 regions and a number of Chinese companies. The peoples of our countries, not in words, but in deeds, like real "iron brothers", have demonstrated that they can be together in sorrow and in joy. In addition, in May, China made the second stage of the free transfer of coronavirus vaccines for Belarus. Container transport between Europe and China during the pandemic has significantly strengthened its place in the logistics supply chains, being at times the only reliable means of transport.

In 2020, we reached a historic high in trade with China – the mutual turnover of goods and services amounted to 5.4 billion US dollars. In the context of the pandemic and the global crisis, we not only did not allow the decline, but were able to increase the volume. The trade turnover increased by 9.5 million US dollars. For the first time, China became the second trading partner of Belarus, after Russia. The export of Belarusian products to China increased by 9.4%. At the same time, food supplies doubled, and for certain items, for example, poultry meat, an increase of 3.5 times, and whey – 2.2 times. Exports were diversified to increase the share of high-value-added products and reduce the share of raw materials, while the dynamics of volume growth remained in all these commodity groups. Over the past few years, more than a hundred of our producers of dairy, meat, fish products, as well as animal feed have been accredited in China.

Special attention should be paid to the implementation of the project of the international logistics terminal in the Great Stone Park with the participation of Chinese, Belarusian, German and Swiss companies, which is designed to speed up the delivery of goods on the China–Europe route from 16 to 10-12 days.

In Belarus, all types of transport are used to organize optimal supply chains. More than 98% of Belarus exports to China are served by multimodal rail and sea transport, which is about 1-2 million tons per year. Mineral fertilizers and timber products dominate the supply structure. Effective logistics schemes for the movement of container trains to China with Belarusian food products, timber cargo, and paper are being worked out.

Belarus was one of the first countries to join the Belt and Road initiative proposed by President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping and actively participates in its projects, one of the most important elements of which is the development of accelerated China–Europe rail transport.

Thanks to the Belt and Road initiative and the measures taken to accelerate the development of China–Europe container transport via Belarus, immense result was achieved. 38 thousand containers passed through the territory of Belarus in 2014, then in 2020 such a number multiplies 14.5 times, getting about 550 thousand containers. Even in a difficult year for trade in 2020, Belarus handled 25% more containers than in the previous year.

It should be emphasized that the Belarusian side systematically pays special attention to the issue of optimizing freight rail transport between China and Europe on its territory. In 2008, the railways of Belarus, China and Russia agreed on common approaches to cooperation and offered customers a new service for cargo transportation by organized container trains in the China - Europe connection. The first container train was sent in January 2008 from Beijing to Hamburg via Mongolia, Russia, Belarus and Poland. Then this experience was successfully applied in the organization of transportation through Kazakhstan.

Since 2013, the railways of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have started implementing the project of the United Transport and Logistics Company (currently JSC "OTLK EPA"), which was designed to provide a high-quality logistics service for delivery from the Chinese to the Belarusian border. For several years of its activity, this company offers a modern high-quality service for Chinese and European customers from China and Europe on the principle of "one window".

In 2017, the Belarus Railways was one of the first to support the initiative of the China Railways and took an active part in the preparation of the Agreement between the railways of China, Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland and Russia on deepening cooperation on the organization of container trains in the China - Europe connection, which was signed in April 2017. As part of the implementation of this Agreement, a Memorandum on joint actions aimed at increasing the speed of container trains in the China - Europe connection was signed in December 2020. In the near future, the task is to develop and coordinate with all participants in the transportation process a set of specific measures.

Belarus is a kind of land link between China and Europe, providing a large share of all rail traffic on this route. Already in 2017, the first full-fledged container train with Belarusian products (timber) was sent to China. In 2018, a full-fledged container train with dairy products from Belarusian enterprises was sent on the Minsk - Chongqing route. In 2020, more than 100 container trains with export products of Belarusian enterprises were sent to China.

Currently, container trains run from 60 cities in China to 50 cities in 15 European countries, offering high-quality and profitable logistics schemes. The main points of departure and destination of container trains are:

in Europe: Germany (Hamburg, Duisburg, Nuremberg), the Netherlands (Tilburg), Poland (Lodz, Malashevichi);

in China: Zhengzhou (Henan Province), Wuhan (Hubei Province), Hefei (Anhui Province), Chengdu (Sichuan Province), Urumqi (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), Chongqing (city of central subordination), Xi'an (Shaanxi Province), Shenzhen (Guangdong Province).

In order to speed up the movement of container trains through the Belarusian border crossings, a set of measures to increase mutual capacity is being implemented jointly with foreign partners. At the same time, all emerging issues of China - Europe rail container transportation via Belarus are successfully resolved in bilateral and multilateral formats, for which we express our special gratitude to our colleagues.

Today, business requires a constant reduction in time of delivery and its cost, such as the positive dynamics of railway cargo transportation poses a scope of tasks for the future. To optimizing traffic, Belarus is developing prospects for creating a single "digital transport corridors". In this direction, it relies on the introduction of paperless document management, end-to-end train schedules, electronic interaction with state regulatory authorities, blockchain technology and smart seals introduction. Particularly, a special place in that issue should be given to improving the transport infrastructure and establishing mutually beneficial contacts with business partners. So Belarus does consistently step forward to that having in the priorities – openness, progressive initiatives and successful usage of modern logistics trends.

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