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Cargo trucks at a railway container freight center in Manzhouli, a border port with Russia, in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Sept. 6, 2018. (Xinhua)
A China-Europe freight train loaded with nearly 400 tonnes of goods worth 5.37 million U.S. dollars left the Dalang Train Station in Guangzhou, capital of southern China's Guangdong Province, and headed for Moscow on Tuesday.
The train will go through the Manzhouli Port on the China-Russia border. The whole journey will take about half a month.
"We used to transport goods by sea, first to Hamburg or Rotterdam, and then to Russia by rail; it took about 60 days," said He Wang, general manager of NBC Global Logistics Co. Ltd. "The China-Europe freight trains have shortened the transport time by at least two thirds and have also helped save logistics, warehousing and other costs."
Statistics from the Guangzhou Customs show that the products from the Pearl River Delta region accounted for 90 percent of the goods transported by the "Guangzhou-Manzhouli-Russia" China-Europe freight trains, with LED lighting products increasing by 33 percent year on year and mobile communication products rising by 120 percent from the previous year.
Guangzhou Customs said that currently, the goods shipped by the China-Europe freight trains have shifted from traditional labor-intensive products such as clothes, shoes and hats to high-value-added commodities such as computers, telecommunications and electronics.
Among these goods for export, electric products are widely welcomed, especially mobile phones. In the first four months of 2019, Guangdong Province exported more than 2 million mobile phones worth nearly 700 million yuan (101.2 million U.S. dollars) to Russia via the Guangzhou Customs, marking a year-on-year increase of more than four times.
Bilateral trade between China and Russia has seen rapid growth. China has been Russia's largest trading partner for eight consecutive years, and the bilateral trade volume exceeded 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.
The China-Europe freight trains shuttling between Guangzhou and Russia have also played an important role in the development of the regional economy. Starting from the end of July 2018 trains transport not only domestic goods but also goods from Southeast Asian countries to Russia.
He Wang said that nearly 70 percent of his company's cargo, mainly clothing, shoes, bags and others, destined for Russia, comes from Vietnam, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries. The company has also seen a surge in the freight volume heading for Russia in recent years.
At the same time, the China-Europe freight trains transported timber, agricultural products and other goods from Russia back to Chinese cities during return trips.
Huang Zhongxi, general manager of Guangzhou Dashunfa Logistics Co. Ltd., said that in the second half of 2018, they arranged 18 return trains from Hamburg and Moscow to transport goods to Guangdong via Chengdu.
As a hub city on the Belt and Road, Guangzhou will play a more important role in the future, said Huang.