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Belt & Road Initiative ep2: Gansu local industries aim to go global


06-21-2016 13:04 BJT

Full coverage: Belt and Road Initiative

From noodles to wine, some of Gansu province's local industries see an opportunity to go global through the Belt and Road Initiative. The province is in a landlocked region far removed from major trading ports, but an inland logistics hub is now facilitating international trade.

This kitchen at a popular noodle restaurant in Lanzhou teems with activity almost all day. Pulled and stretched by hand before making their way to the dinner table, these noodles are a proud specialty for the city.

"I like the noodles very much. I eat them almost every day, not only in the morning, but sometimes in the afternoon, too. I like the both thin noodles and the wide ones," Restaurant customer said.

Lanzhou’s beef noodles or "Lamian" can date back thousands of years and now they're set to go global. Authorities in Gansu province are working to boost the Lanzhou brand beyond China's borders with the help of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

"We’re trying to standardize the training and branding of Lanzhou noodles so as to preserve the culture, and at the same time maintain the quality. We’re promoting the brand in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. We’re also developing the brand in Malaysia and Indonesia," Zhang Shi'en, deputy head of Commerce Department of Gansu Province, said.

Besides noodles, Gansu is pushing other homegrown industries for export. This rose plantation and processing facility produces perfume, soap, and other goods sold to Japan, Korea and Southeast Asian countries as well as Taiwan region. But through the new Silk Road, the company hopes to export more products to Gulf countries.

While rose-based products already have an international presence, it’s a different story for China’s relatively young wine sector. Some of the country’s best known wines come from this vineyard in Wuwei.

Wuwei’s wines, produced at vineyards like this with ideal farming conditions, are already popular across China. But the wines have yet to enter international markets. There are plans to export wines in the future, and the city’s vintners hope the One Belt, One Road initiative would pave the way for that.

Wuwei’s wine industry is currently worth 400 million yuan or around 60 million US dollars. With government support, it hopes to increase its productivity and be able to compete on an international stage.

"We are working on improving the quality of our wine, from planting to fermenting techniques. We are considering exporting afterwards. The Belt and Road initiative helps in terms of transporting wine products. It provides us with an opportunity to enter the market abroad," Wang Runping, general manager of Gansu Mogao Industrial Development Co. Ltd., said.

And the door to overseas markets is right in their own backyard. This bonded logistics center in Wuwei is being developed as a major storage and jump-off point for various exports from wine to agricultural products.

The logistics center is linked to a freight train system that’s been traveling weekly to Kazakhstan in Central Asia since 2014 and will begin heading to Europe this year.
The Tianma train transported some 117 million dollars’ worth of products in 2015.
Because of the train, exports from this landlocked region no longer have to go through China’s coastal cities before they can begin a lengthy sea journey.

"The transportation cycle will be trimmed down to less than one-third of the original length of time it used to take to export products to Europe. The logistics cost will be significantly lowered," Yang Yu, vice president of Gansu Land Port Industrial Co., Ltd., said.

In addition to the inland port, future plans include building two logistics centers and seven export hubs, plus establishing a free trade zone in the area -- all aiming to become engines of economic growth and opening up Gansu to the outside world.

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