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Chongqing a key trade hub between Europe and Southeast Asia

Updated: 2018-07-11

By Andrew Moody and Tan Yingzi in Chongqing, China Daily Europe

Another logistics facility is the Chongqing Lianglu-Cuntan Free Trade Port Area, which is the only bonded port area in western China. It has been in operation since 2008 and is one of only 14 such areas in the country.

Goods entering the bonded port are deemed not to have entered the country until they leave, when they will be subject to normal customs clearance. Both Chongqing Liangbei International Airport and Cuntan Port are within the bonded zone, which is home to six of the top 10 logistics companies in the world.

"It is very important for Chongqing to have its own bonded zone. We produce a lot of cars and laptops here, and if all these have to go through Shanghai or Shenzhen, it becomes very expensive for manufacturers," says Qu Huang, deputy general manager of the free trade port.

One of the exciting aspects of Chongqing's new connectivity is being able to link Europe to Southeast Asia by rail.

One of the key organizations facilitating this is the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative - whose full name is the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity.

It is the third major intergovernmental initiative formed between China and Singapore. The other two are the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, which was launched in 1994 and seen as vital to China's early industrial development, and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.

The Chongqing Connectivity Initiative was launched in November 2015 by President Xi and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with the aim of developing cooperation in financial services, aviation logistics and transportation, and communication and information technology.

Han Baochang, the initiative's director-general, believes there is a real opportunity to build connections between Europe and Singapore.

"Chongqing has a real opportunity to elevate its status into a hub for international logistics," he says in his offices in Chongqing's Jiangbeizui financial district.

He cites the example of a Vietnam manufacturer of high-end sports shoes that might need high-quality plastics from Europe.

"The raw materials can come via rail from Europe to Chongqing and then go through the Southern Transport Corridor to Vietnam. The end product can then be sold across ASEAN countries or Europe, going back by the same route."

Tse at Gao Feng Advisory believes there is a bigger picture to the establishment of greater links between Europe and China.

"There is a danger of seeing this just in terms of rail links. It all becomes a little bit technical if that is the case. It ignores that China now has this overarching view emboldened by Xi Jinping's concept of building a 'common destiny for mankind'. This is not just Europe and China working together, but also countries in Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and elsewhere, too."

Hu Yongqi contributed to this story.

Contact the writers at andrewmoody@chinadaily.com.cn

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