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Xiamen's new logistics platform seen transforming cargo shipping

By Liu Yukun in Beijing and Hu Meidong in Xiamen, Fujian | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-26 10:05

Silk Road Maritime, a logistics facilitation platform, is launched on Monday in Xiamen, Fujian province. [Photo by Hu Meidong/China Daily]

Silk Road Maritime, a new logistics facilitation platform launched this week, is promising to add tremendous value to shipping operations in the eastern region by optimizing routes currently in use, industry insiders said.

The Xiamen, Fujian province-based service is expected to lower costs for even urgent shipping orders as it is backed by an alliance of nearly 50 logistics providers across shipping, air, and supply chain sectors, they said.

Li Yifeng, who owned a logistics company in Xiamen, is certain the platform will enhance efficiency.

Now a commercial director at VMS Supply Chain (China) Ltd, Li said Silk Road Maritime can help improve certain practices.

Li said in the past, the sector did not have the capability to execute orders on the same day. Now, however, the new logistics platform is expected to club orders of different cargo firms together and optimize container capacity. This could facilitate quick dispatch without having to wait until the container is full with cargo of a single firm.

"In the past, we used to use air transport combined with sea-based shipping to execute quick orders. But that cost us about five times more than normal shipping," Li said.

Silk Road Maritime, market experts said, can enhance transportation networks and promote trade, making Xiamen a strategic point in China.

Founded by Xiamen Port Holding Group Co, and run by its subsidiary, Silk Road Maritime manages shipments of numerous courier and cargo service providers.

The platform also offers smoother transitions, related infrastructure and services to shipping companies.

"It's a big positive for logistics companies as it optimizes current routes and brings balance to current shipment schedules. All this can facilitate daily shipments," Li said.

According to Cai Liqun, deputy general manager at Xiamen Port Holding Group, the platform will also offer other services such as communications with ports and storage facilities.

"We hope to build the platform into a globally competitive business incubator and attract logistics companies from both domestic and overseas markets," said Cai.

By next June, the group plans to manage 16 new shipping routes with a majority of them connecting Southeast Asia. The 16 routes were previously managed by China Cosco Shipping Corp Ltd, Wan Hai Lines Ltd, and many others.

It also plans to harness synergies from cooperation with Sino Euro Cargo Railway, a logistics network linking China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with Central Asian and European countries.

The deal will help the countries connect with Southeast Asia, with Xiamen acting as a vital link on the route.

Huang Qiang, executive vice-mayor of Xiamen, said: "It will be a crucial step for the city, which is an important base for China's opening-up, to strengthen trade ties between China and other countries. A well-established logistics network can also make the city more appealing to trading companies."

Cai said the first shipment using Silk Road Maritime carried a load of 4,250 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, an industry measure of cargo capacity) of light industry products bound for the Philippines.

"The first shipment from Xiamen contained clothes, fabrics and many other goods to Southeast Asian countries. It will bring back tropical fruits from there on the return trip," Cai said.

The next step, according to Xiamen Port Holding Group, is to increase shipping routes, and facilitate smoother sea-to-sea and sea-toland shipping transitions through cooperation with ports, railways and shipping companies operating in both domestic and overseas markets.

Going forward, the group plans to develop into a globally competitive brand in the field of logistics services and shipping networks, involve more shipping companies, and increase volumes.

The group's efforts in improving logistics networks have been supported by local governments.

Xiamen Vice-Mayor Huang said the local government will continue supporting such projects by offering better infrastructure and services, to bolster a better business environment for logistics.

The local government has vowed to support related construction, including renovating current ports and industrial parks. It said it will continue to build the linking arteries and logistics networks covering railways and highways.

The government also said it will promote more efficient customs inspection and quarantine facilities, and link up services like storage, inland transportation, and customs clearance.

"The establishment of such platforms is essential for Xiamen to build itself into China's pivot point in promoting trade with economies in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe and other regions," Huang said.

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