Singapore and Chongqing aim to cut freight time

The Southern Transport Corridor is also a conduit for goods from South-east Asia to go all the way up to south-western Chongqing .
The Southern Transport Corridor is also a conduit for goods from South-east Asia to go all the way up to south-western Chongqing .PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, FACEBOOK/CHAN CHUN SING
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing meeting Gansu Governor Tang Renjian in Lanzhou yesterday.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing meeting Gansu Governor Tang Renjian in Lanzhou yesterday.PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, FACEBOOK/CHAN CHUN SING

Chan Chun Sing suggests cargo data could be sent ahead of time to reduce Customs delays

It now takes about a week to transport goods between Singapore and Chongqing. Both cities hope to reduce this to as little as five days, which would make it easier to ship fresh produce.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who is on a visit to China, suggested information about cargo could be sent ahead of time to minimise Customs delays.

He was speaking to Singapore media on Thursday evening after meetings with local party and government leaders, as well as businesses from both cities, to discuss the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.

The third Sino-Singapore joint government project aims to drive trade and investments in China's less-developed western region through better transport, financing and data connectivity. "Beyond the physical connectivity of linking the road, rail, river and sea, we also need an information network to facilitate such trade flows," Mr Chan said.

He noted that the new Southern Transport Corridor linking Singapore, South-east Asia and western China via rail and sea has already cut freight time from the three weeks via a route going through the Three Gorges Dam and Shanghai. Said Mr Chan: "So we already save two weeks. We challenge ourselves and ask ourselves, 'Can we save even more time, save even more costs?' "

While the corridor enables goods to be moved between Chongqing and Singapore in less than five days, actual freight time is a week or so as a result of Customs delays, he noted. To improve this, he suggested a single electronic window be set up to facilitate information sharing.

Ultimately, improving connectivity is about creating more business opportunities and jobs, he noted.

The Southern Transport Corridor is not limited to transporting goods from southern and western China through Beibu Gulf to Singapore. It is also a conduit for goods from South-east Asia to go all the way up to south-western Chongqing.

"The next phase of our conversation is to find out the products that will be the most suitable for this new route," Mr Chan said. His assessment is that momentum around this new route is gradually building, with more people wanting to use it.

Besides neighbouring Guizhou, Gansu and Guangxi, Chongqing is in talks with four other provinces - Sichuan, Shaanxi, Yunnan and Qinghai - to explore how to work together to develop the route.

"The more people use it, the cheaper it will be, the more efficient it will be," said Mr Chan. "It will in turn encourage even more people to use this network."

Singapore will gather Chongqing and its neighbouring provinces as well as other Asean countries for a forum in the Republic in August to explore the new route's potential.

Yesterday, Mr Chan met Gansu Governor Tang Renjian in Lanzhou to discuss the province's participation in the Southern Transport Corridor. He will meet Sichuan party boss Peng Qinghua in Chengdu today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore and Chongqing aim to cut freight time'. Print Edition | Subscribe