NPC 2018: China's Southern Transport Corridor set to expand its reach

A freight train transporting containers laden with goods from the UK en route to Yiwu in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.
A freight train transporting containers laden with goods from the UK en route to Yiwu in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - A senior official from southern Guangxi says the Chinese autonomous region plans to expand cooperation under the Southern Transport Corridor rail network to include more Chinese provinces as well as other Asean countries.

The Southern Transport Corridor will link south-western Chongqing and Guangxi, providing a shorter and more direct trade route between western China and South-east Asia.

Last April, Singapore's trade promotion agency IE Singapore and the Guangxi government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to look into cooperation on the link that will connect Chongqing to Singapore via the Beibu Gulf (Gulf of Tonkin) in Guangxi.

Mr Liu Hongwu, director-general of Guangxi Development and Reform Commission, told reporters on Thursday (March 8) that progress had been made since then, including the adjustment of coastal railway tariffs.

"We have brought container freight rates down by 20 per cent," said Mr Liu, who was speaking  on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress or parliament in Beijing.

Last August, Guangxi also agreed to work with Chongqing city, Gansu and Guizhou provinces to integrate customs, data and financing for rail cargo on the route.

"We plan to invite Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan and other neighbouring provinces as well as Asean countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia to join us in building the Southern Transport Corridor," Mr Liu added.

Conventionally, it takes three weeks to transport goods between Chongqing and Singapore via river transportation along the Yangtze River and a sea route through Shanghai.

This new route has promised to cut transport time drastically. "It is nine days now and we hope to shorten it further," he told reporters.

Mr Liu pledged to strengthen infrastructure construction to make this a reality.

In addition, the Guangxi government will also strengthen policy support in areas such as prices, land, financing and talent to build this transport link, he said.

At least two Singapore projects in Guangxi are looking to tap this transport link.

Shipping company Pacific International Lines (PIL) is building an integrated logistics park in Guangxi's provincial capital Nanning to provide central warehousing, cold chain management and transportation.

It has also joined with PSA and the Beibu Gulf Port Group to operate a container terminal at Qinzhou port in the Beibu Gulf.