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Trade corridor boosts RCEP regional economic integration

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2023-04-04

NANNING -- Cargo ships carrying 18 tonnes of orah mandarin departed from Qinzhou Port of south China's Beibu Gulf Port in late March, marking the very first batch of the sweet fruit exported via this sea route.

With the support of cold chain logistics, the local delicacy of Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is expected to reach Thailand in about eight days.

China's fruit exports have grown sharply with the development of such cold chain logistics. Since the beginning of this year, Beibu Gulf Port has shipped about 2,850 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of freezers, including 500 TEUs of fresh fruits, said He Jian, project manager of a logistic company in Beibu Gulf Port.

"There are various transport means for Thai durians to enter the Chinese market. The increasingly convenient transportation and logistics network allows more ASEAN commodities to enter China and share market opportunities," said Nisachol Thaithong, a Thai trader.

Thanks to the constant construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, a trade and logistics passage jointly built by provincial-level regions in western China and ASEAN members, Beibu Gulf Port plays a pivotal role in providing maritime transportation with large transport volumes and lower costs, efficiently helping meet consumption needs.

Huang Jiangnan, head of Qinzhou Port's east railway station, said that more varieties of western China's specialties, including goji berry products from Ningxia, nuts from Xinjiang, and tea from Guizhou, have been exported through the corridor's rail-sea intermodal services over the years.

Once little-known, the local signature products have become new driving engines of China's foreign trade growth in the region, especially after the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) took effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

The RCEP also facilitated the imports of commodities like Thai glutinous rice, Vietnamese basa fish, and Cambodian bananas. On March 22, more than 5,700 cattle arrived at Qinzhou Port after 17 days' voyage from Australia's Portland Port. After required 45-day quarantine, the cattle will be sold to help improve breeding or milk production across China.

With booming trade, the total number of train trips via the corridor's rail-sea intermodal service surged from 178 in 2017, when the service began to operate regularly, to 8,820 last year. More high-end products with higher added value, like automobiles, are riding high on the trade corridor.

Since 2022, Beibu Gulf Port has launched specific foreign trade routes covering destinations in RCEP countries. The port currently notches up 34 shipping routes to ports in RCEP countries and plans to develop more goods source markets in countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, said the port authorities. Last year alone, Chinese goods to RCEP countries transported via the trade corridor grew 9.7 percent year on year to 69,000 TEUs.

Hello Chuxing, a Shanghai-based bike-sharing start-up, recently announced its investment of about 1.2 billion yuan (174 million U.S. dollars) in future business expansion in ASEAN countries.

"The implementation of the RCEP enables enterprises to enjoy preferential tax rates for their exports, helping our market expansion in Southeast Asia," said Liu Tao with the company.

With China's accelerated opening-up and development, the trade corridor is expected to further promote the economic growth of the RCEP region in the future, said Lei Xiaohua, deputy director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences.