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China Focus: Chongqing's China-Europe trains on fast track

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

12-15-2016 16:07 BJT

CHONGQING, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Every day, trains full of laptops, electronics and auto parts depart the remote village of Tuanjiecun for Europe.

For five years, trains have delivered laptops for Hewlett-Packard, car window regulators for Brose and semi-conductors for AT&S, from Chongqing Municipality, southwest China, to Europe.

Since the trains started in March 2011, there has been a business boom in the mountain city.

According to Chongqing Logistics City, Chongqing imported more than 2,000 cars on the international rail network in the past two years.

Six years ago the city was struggling to attract businesses, which mostly centered on China's coastal areas where convenient shipping and air transport converge.

"Before 2011 we had to wait for business to come because we did not have much of a transport advantage, even though labor was cheap," said Guo Jian, director at Chongqing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology. "But with the launch of the trains, we got more deals because train transport costs are only about one-fifth of air, and one-third faster than sea."

As prices along the eastern seaboard rose, industries began to move inland. In 2010 Hewlett-Packard established a computer production line in Chongqing, seeking government help to launch a rail network to transport products overseas, said Yang Liqiong, director of the Logistics Coordination Office under the municipal government.

"That was when the China-Europe rail network was launched," she said.

Following the footsteps of Hewlett-Packard, other brands such as Acer, Toshiba and Apple's major supplier Foxconn set up bases in Chongqing to take advantage of the rail line.

"The China-Europe rail network saves at least 30 days compared with shipping by sea," said Chen Wei, vice president of Chongqing's auto-maker Lifan Group, Russia's top Chinese auto brand in sales for five years. "It saves us about 5 million U.S. dollars each year."

The railway has been great for business in Chongqing, with laptop, mobile phone and automobile sales soaring.

According to the local government, 41 of 42 major categories of laptop components can now be made in Chongqing, and tens of millions of laptops are transported abroad through the railway and Yangtze River every year.

Chongqing's automobile sales exceeded 3 million last year, making it the second biggest auto-making base in the world after Detroit in the United States.

"The auto industry in Chongqing has really benefited from the China-Europe railway," said Yang Liqiong, the Logistics Coordination Office director. "Each year, carmakers need to import a large number of auto parts from around the world, and the network provides a highly efficient and safe way."

In June a coffee trade center opened in the city. Within two weeks, the center inked deals with more than 200 domestic and foreign companies, including Louis Dreyfus of France.

"Chongqing is not a coffee production base and has very limited coffee consumption, but it is close to China's biggest coffee production base in Yunnan," said Sun Zheng, a manager at the center. "With the China-Europe railway, we can not only export Yunnan coffee to Europe, but also become a transport hub for coffee from Southeast Asia to Europe."

The municipal government plans to make Chongqing China's biggest, and the world's third biggest, coffee trade center, with trade expected to exceed 100 billion yuan (14 billion U.S. dollars).

"The rail network not only provides a major channel for goods but is also a magnet for global capital, resources, skills and talent," said Luo Shuquan, Chongqing Logistics City chairman.

Despite fast development, problems stand in the way, including different standards of goods transported between China and other countries.

"We are trying to negotiate with other countries in dealing with such issues," said Yang Liqiong. "We will try to connect major industries in the world via the network."

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