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Smarter courier service helps smooth circulation

By Fu Shaochuan and Li Lu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-04-23 08:54


The guideline document to accelerate the construction of a unified domestic market, released on April 10, is aimed at ending local and regional protectionism, promoting the smooth flow of production factors on a larger scale and thereby removing the hurdles to economic growth and unifying the country's fragmented market.

The document, titled "Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Accelerating the Construction of a Unified National Market", is part of a nationwide push to build a well-regulated, competitive and fully open market across the country.

To begin with, there is a need to build an all-comprehensive, modern logistics system. And the express delivery service industry, which plays a key role in the resources and commodity services market and joins the production and consumption links and thus boosts development, has become an integral part of the modern logistics system.

The express delivery service industry has made (and will continue to make) significant contributions to China's development. For example, China's GDP grew 8.1 percent year-on-year to reach 114 trillion yuan ($17.76 trillion) in 2021, while the express delivery sector grew 17.5 percent year-on-year with its revenue hitting 1.03 trillion yuan. In absolute terms, the express delivery sector's revenue accounted for 0.9 percent of GDP, with its annual growth rate being 2.16 times that of GDP.

By improving the express delivery service system, the authorities can ensure the smooth flow of production factors and strengthen the supply and industry chains, and thus accelerate the construction of a unified national market.

But since the express delivery sector faces problems such as a deficient service network, unbalanced benefits and insufficient informatization, efforts should be made to build a smarter and more efficient express service network by, among other things, accelerating the construction of a cold chain express delivery system.

First, the authorities should improve the express delivery sector's infrastructure by properly using rural public resources, including rural express service points, and strengthening the public urban distribution nodes and community distribution facilities.

Second, they should make the express transportation sector more efficient by optimizing the use of road, rail, air and other modes of transport, increasing road and air express delivery capacities, building more high-speed railways, improving multimodal transport connectivity, coordinating express delivery timing and frequency, and removing the "first mile" and "last mile" obstacles to the development of the express delivery sector.

Third, the authorities should facilitate the development of the sector by encouraging express delivery companies to invest more in the research and development of new technologies, and using more advanced technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and internet of things to improve the storage, transportation, sorting, and distribution of consignments.

Fourth, they should expedite the construction of the cold chain express delivery system, while encouraging express delivery companies to build regional distribution centers, including pre-cooling, sorting and warehousing facilities, especially in areas that are major agricultural producers, so as to boost the cold chain sector's overall capacity as well as to reduce product damage.

There is also a need to let private express delivery enterprises play a bigger role in the market, and strengthen cooperation between local governments and enterprises, as well as among enterprises.

The authorities also need to strengthen the emergency response capability of express delivery services. During emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent delivery of products is of prime importance not only for providing timely relief for those in need, but also for restoring social order.

That means it is necessary to establish and improve an emergency management system led by the government, coordinated by emergency management departments and participated by express delivery companies. The government should therefore ask the express delivery industry to build emergency support teams and train them how to overcome the challenges during emergencies and deliver consignments on time, while incorporating some of the industry's delivery and transportation equipment, personnel and infrastructure into emergency service mechanisms at the central and local levels.

The authorities can encourage the coordinated development of the express delivery industry by helping boost cooperation between express delivery companies and upstream and downstream enterprises in the industry, facilitating the diversification and expansion of express delivery companies, and promoting cooperation between the manufacturing and express delivery sectors, in order to ensure the synchronized development of the two sectors.

Fu Shaochuan is a professor of logistics systemic analysis and planning at the School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University; and Li Lu is a postgraduate student at the same university.

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