On June 5, a train loaded with women’s footwear, computers, and SUVs arrived at Vorsino Station in Moscow, Russia.

Since March 2018, when the first batch of customised trains carrying Russian timber arrived in Chengdu, Sichuan province, the railway express linking Chengdu and Moscow has been running smoothly.

This June, the railway express has made 432 trips between the two stations, carrying 17,201 containers with a total value of US$380 million.

Integration of Transport & Trade

Last year, Chengdu International Railway Port launched the integration of transport and trade for China Railway Express (Chengdu-Russia).

This has helped to provide integrated logistics solutions and customised railway services based on customer demand on trade and transportation. It has also been able to provide commission services and financial services, as well as facilitate trade and logistics.

Chengdu International Railway Port has also designed services for the integration of transport and trade for products like timber and assembled vehicles. While helping Chengdu- and Sichuan-made goods such as vehicles, clothing, shoes, hats, auto parts, and home appliances to open up the Russian market, it has also facilitated the transport of products like timber, candy, and pulp from Russia to China.

The categories of goods are constantly diversifying, and the source of goods are extending from Chengdu to Yunnan, Zhejiang, Zhengzhou, Guiyang, Fujian, and Shijiazhuang.

At present, the railway express is making over 25 trips every month. From January to May 2019, the express has made 182 trips, up 264% year-on-year, and the total value of goods reached US$170 million, up 658.6% year-on-year.

Innovation of “One Unit” Financial Settlement Scheme

In December 2018, Chengdu International Railway Port issued China’s first international letter of credit to use the international rail transport waybill as a voucher for negotiation and settlement in RMB to facilitate trade.

In cooperation with Zhejiang Commercial Bank, the trade company Chengdu Inland Port Operation has introduced the model to international sea-rail transport (Dubai-Qinzhou-Chengdu) and road-rail transport (Novosibirsk-Chengdu), facilitating trade in goods such as timber, wine, and automobiles.

So far, more than 1,000 international trade businesses have benefited from the model, which mainly conduct international trades of vehicles, wine, and timber. Preliminary estimates suggest a 10-20% reduction in international trading costs for importers and exporters. This innovative measure, which began in Qingbaijiang district of Chengdu, was included in a top 10 list of China’s successful policy reforms.

The “one-unit” financial settlement financing rules for international rail transport piloted by China and Russia have also been included in the “List of Deliverables” from the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Customised Trains Facilitate Trade Development

According to the China Timber & Wood Products Distribution Association, the world’s per capita share of timber in 2018 was 0.52 cubic meters, while the figure in China was only 0.33. The annual demand for timber in Sichuan province is over 20 million cubic meters.

In Qingbaijiang International Wood Trading Center in Chengdu, more than 85% of the companies engaging in international timber trade are doing so with Russia.

In 2018, the centre sold about 2 million cubic meters of timber and wood products, of which Russian timber accounted for 60%. The proportion of timber transported through the China Railway Express is about 70%.

From January to May this year, the centre sold a total of 1.01 million cubic meters of timber and wood products, of which about 630,000 cubic meters were from Russia, and about 80% of the Russian timber-500,000 cubic meters-were transported through the customised trains.

“The market is flourishing with an annual sales increase of 30%, and this year’s trade volume is expected to be over 4 billion yuan,” said He Shihai, general manager of the centre.

At present, the main businesses of the trading centre are construction timber and wood products, which account for more than 60% of Sichuan’s market share.

In cooperation with Chengdu International Railway Port Investment and Development Co., the trading centre has set up the International Timber Distribution Center to promote the integration of transportation and trade.

The new distribution centre is tasked with becoming the largest railway express timber distribution centre in China, the largest Russian timber trading centre in western China, and a world-famous international timber trading centre.