By Liu Rong, People's Daily
The morning breeze in Qingdao, east China's Shandong province has turned a bit chilly in early autumn. However, sweats were seen on the forehead of Yue Chonglong, leader of the dispatching group at the multimodal transportation center of the China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area.
The man kept working for three hours nonstop since 5:00 am, running between the dispatching room and cargo fields, and finally released an international freight train from the multimodal transportation center to Mannheim, Germany.
In June 2018, China proposed at the Qingdao Summit of the SCO to establish a demonstration area in Qingdao for local economic and trade cooperation between China and the SCO.
Over the past years, the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area has built itself into a high-caliber center of international logistics, modern trade, two-way investment cooperation, and commercial, tourism and cultural exchanges.
It now serves as a new platform for Belt and Road cooperation. More and more products from Belt and Road countries are shipped to their destinations through the demonstration area.
"This is a new international freight route opened this year, and it has started regular operation," said Yue, the senior dispatcher with 11 years of work experience. According to him, he "sees off" three to four trains every day, and the number of freight trains departing from the demonstration area for SCO states and Belt and Road countries this year is much higher than before.
Situated near the Qingdao port, the multimodal transportation center, and the Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport, the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area enjoy "natural" advantages as a transport hub.
As Qingdao is seeing closer economic and trade ties with SCO states, more and more cargos engaged in trade with these countries are being handled in the Chinese coastal city.
"We have opened 17 international routes that reach 51 cities in 22 SCO and Belt and Road countries," said Li Gang, an official with the management committee of the demonstration area.
"Many of our products are sold to Chinese customers and we are receiving more orders. It has not only created economic benefits for our company, but also increased the income of our employees," said a man surnamed Victor, head of Minsk Milk Plant No. 1 in Belarus.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the milk plants had been troubled with overstocking of its milk and skim milk powder products, which were on high demand before.
The table was turned after a trade company in the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area contacted the milk plant and helped the latter find clients in China. In just two months, the Belarusian dairy producer sold over 1,100 tons of dairy products worth more than $1.1 million, according to Victor.
"I want to visit China with my family one day, to have a taste of Chinese food and see how popular our products are in the country," Victor told People's Daily.
Introducing foreign trade entities, establishing trade cooperation platforms and launching trade facilitation policies are major approaches adopted by the demonstration area to advance local economic and trade cooperation.
At present, the demonstration area is home to over 1,800 foreign trade companies engaged in mechanical and electrical products, farm produce, textile and other industries. It has nurtured 10 trade platforms that offer one-stop cross-border e-commerce services. Besides, the demonstration area has delivered over 40 innovative outcomes with SCO characteristics, significantly improving the level of trade and investment facilitation for SCO and Belt and Road countries.
The cross-border e-commerce transactions in the demonstration area in the first seven months of this year are expected to reach $1.15 billion yuan ($166.15 million), and the total imports and exports may surge 38.3 percent to 21 billion yuan. In particular, the trade volume with SCO states is expected to increase 86.2 percent to 4.3 billion yuan.