A pilot route to simplify international freight transportation across China, Mongolia and Russia hit the road in Tianjin on Aug 18, aiming to boost economic cooperation and trade between the countries.
“The pilot trip is an effective trial to carry out the nations’ top strategic plans in the transportation field, and also a move to deepen economic cooperation in the economic corridor through China, Mongolia and Russia,” said Liu Xiaoming, vice-minister of transportation, adding that the pilot trip will coordinate freight transportation policies and standards in the economic corridor, aiming to simplify freight transport procedures along the route.
In July, China joined the TIR Convention, an international system allowing transportation of authorized goods through member states without being subject to customs inspections. It takes effect on Jan 5. Russia and Mongolia are already TIR member countries.
The estimated seven-day trip covering 2,152 kilometers will stop at 11 cities, including China’s border city Erenhot, Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar and Russia’s Ulan-Ude.
A total of nine trucks are participating in the trip — three each from China, Mongolia and Russia.
“It will be a milestone in our trilateral transportation,” Liu said.
The route links China’s One Belt, One Road initiative with Mongolia’s Prairie Road program and Russia’s transcontinental rail plan.
“The new route will open the Mongolian and Russian markets for us. For example, when the route opens, high value-added products such as electronic products and tropical fruits can be transported by road from South China, and even Southeast Asian countries, to Mongolia and Russia,” said Guo Xin, general manager of Nanjing Xinjinhang Logistic Co, which is participating in the pilot.
“Air cargo is very expensive. Now electronic products from Samsung and Huawei are usually sent to Mongolia and Russia by plane. If the road corridor opens, it would be a more cost-effective alternative,” Guo said, adding that the cost of road transportation is about one-tenth of air transportation.
“One truck carrying about 20 metric tons of freight from South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to Russia costs about $4,000. But air cargo is calculated by the kilo,” Guo said.
China signed road freight agreements with Mongolia in 1991 and Russia in 1992.
Last year, 3.7 million passengers and 24.6 trillion kilograms of freight were transported between China and the two countries.
In 2014, President Xi Jinping proposed a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. Details were discussed by the presidents of China, Mongolia and Russia, aiming at strengthening regional ties and boosting trade.