Embrace challenge of China-Europe freight train service

Connecting the wholesale market town of Yiwu in the Chinese province of Zhejiang by rail to London spells a new chapter in trade between China and Europe ("First China freight train arrives in London"; Jan 20).

This new service's journey time is two weeks shorter than that by sea, and prices are half that of air cargo. No wonder traders on both ends of the route are excited by this latest development.

Would this new connection have an impact on Singapore's position as a leading hub port in this region?

It is probable that some cargo from either China or Europe may bypass the Strait of Malacca once this transcontinental rail route catches on.

But rather than feel threatened by it, PSA Corp should embrace it as a challenge to up the ante and provide a port service second to none in terms of efficiency, with state of the art port technology that will continue to attract leading shipping lines to call here.

Singapore businesses can also consider investing in or establishing manufacturing facilities near Yiwu or in Chinese cities connected by this new route.

This would enable them to take advantage of the likely trade boom and lower freight costs brought on by this development.

This new rail route may well present plenty of opportunities for Singapore businesses in the near future.

Gabriel Cheng Kian Tiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Embrace challenge of China-Europe freight train service'. Print Edition | Subscribe