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SPG opens more routes to further spur trade

By ZHUANG QIANGE, LI JIAYING in Beijing and XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-12 09:10
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Qingdao Port in East China's Shandong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In a move to further enhance trade ties between China and other member markets within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, Shandong Port Group-a major port operator based in East China-has launched more routes linking Shandong province's Qingdao Port and other RCEP economies.

Supported by 11 domestic and global shipping partners, the State-owned port group announced this week the launch of five shipping routes, two oceangoing lines and one rail-sea intermodal freight line during a ceremony held at Qingdao Port.

SPG said the five new shipping routes will better meet transport demand between China and other RCEP economies including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, and offer low-cost and efficient maritime solutions to facilitate fresh produce and cold-chain food imports from Southeast Asian countries.

"Qingdao Port is a key port serving traders in inland cities, especially those along the Yellow River. The newly launched routes connecting the port to other Belt and Road Initiative and RCEP countries will further boost trade between China and these markets, thus playing a bigger role in driving China's economic growth," said Sui Qing, general manager for Shandong businesses, Zhonggu Shipping Group Co Ltd, an operator of the newly launched routes.

Nabhasporn Bhuttarichval, consul-general of the Thai consulate in Qingdao, said the three routes linking the Port of Laem Chabang in Thailand expand shipping channels for commodities and will not only further boost trade between China and Thailand, but also with other countries along the routes, such as Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea.

"Overall, we see more opportunities for regional trade and production growth with the new routes," the diplomat said.

Referring to the two oceangoing lines, SPG said the lines are set to help export fast-moving consumer goods, chemicals, mechanical and electrical products and other goods to North and South American markets, reinforce economic links between China and Eastern Pacific ports, and support domestic trade companies with businesses there.

Overland, with the launch of a new rail-sea freight line connecting Qingdao Port and the railway port of Suifenhe-a major depot in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province-the freight line operators are poised to provide logistics services for trading companies, domestic and foreign, and further strengthen the stability of regional industrial and supply chains, said SPG officials during the launch event.

Despite multiple challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and disruptions to industrial chains by external uncertainties, SPG, established in 2019 to integrate coastal port resources in seven cities in Shandong province, has been leveraging various strategies to secure momentum amid global headwinds.

The Qingdao-based State-owned enterprise has a series of major domestic ports under its management including those in Qingdao, Rizhao and Yantai, and operates more than 300 production berths, making it the largest port operator by scale in the country.

Last year, SPG's cargo throughput exceeded 1.5 billion metric tons, and its container volume topped 34 million twenty-foot equivalent units-up 6.1 percent and 8.3 percent year-on-year, respectively, ranking tops worldwide in terms of cargo throughput volume and playing a major role in boosting trade between China and other BRI and RCEP markets.

According to Customs data, from January to July, China's trade with other BRI economies and other members of the RCEP soared 19.8 percent and 7.5 percent year-on-year, respectively.

In July, China's trade with RCEP partners reached 1.17 trillion yuan ($173.6 billion), up 18.8 percent year-on-year, respectively, boosting overall foreign trade growth by 5.6 percentage points.

Cui Fan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, said China's joining the RCEP, which created the largest trade bloc in history, has yet to bring even more benefits not only to China, but to the world.

"China's compliance with trade rules under the RCEP will help advance its high-level opening-up, and in turn bolster the integration of industrial, supply and value chains among RCEP members, injecting impetus into the recovery of the global economy," Cui said.

He Jingwei contributed to this story.

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