Business / Economy

China to increase economic impact of Yangzte River

By Zhu Lixin in Ma'anshan, Anhui ( Updated: 2014-09-29 21:00
China aims to increase its dependence on the Yangtze River, the country's longest and the world's third longest river, to further develop its economy.

The State Council released a guideline, on Sept 25, promoting the development of the Yangtze River economic belt into a new engine of economic development. The belt covers nine provinces and two cities, 20 percent of the country's land area and 40 percent of its GDP.

The guideline proposes to offer regions along the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze better access to the ocean, in a bid to broaden the opening-up of the inland region.

It calls for a more balanced development among the regions and wants to see an increase the economy's reliance on the ports along the river.

"The trunk river now sees an annual cargo throughput of more than 2 billion tons, the largest among all the world's inland rivers. Twelve ports along the river reported a cargo throughput of more than 100 million tons in 2013, but most of them are located along the river's lower reaches," says Zhang Xiaowen, chief engineer of the Transport Planning and Research Institute of the Ministry of Transport.

The Yangtze River and its tributaries boast a total navigable length of more than 70,000 kilometers, making the it the major water transport artery between west and east.

Zhang thinks that the river should have been playing a much larger part in the country's economy and the current situation is far from satisfactory.

He made the remarks during a high-level national seminar on the future development of Yangtze River watercourse and ports, held in Ma'anshan, a port city in Anhui province, on Sept 28.

China has seven of the world's 10 busiest ports, but the world's second largest economy's logistics performance only ranks the 28th in the world, according to the Logistics Performance Index by the World Bank.

"China's logistics costs takes up 18 percent in the country's GDP, while the percentages of the developed countries are as low as 9 percent."

According to Zhang's estimation, the cost of river transportation is only half of railways and one-third of roads.

In awareness of the importance of ports to the local economy, many provinces are attaching more importance to ports.

"Coastal provinces and cities are the first to be opened up to the world, but a more developed river transport system can offer inland cities equal access to the world", says Wei Rao, mayor of Ma'anshan, which has the largest and newest port in Anhui province, Zhengpu Port.

The port will start operating in October. It can handle ships up to 50,000 tons and a cargo throughput capacity of more than 100 million tons. It is expected to help Anhui-based enterprises cut their logistics costs by 30 percent, compared to sending goods to the nearby Nanjing Port in the lower reaches.

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