Officials and staff members at Zhongding Logistics Park celebrated Belt and Road International Day on Dec 16, saying the park's operation of China-Europe freight train services over the past six years has contributed to the Belt and Road Initiative and Shanxi's opening-up.
The park, located in the central Shanxi city of Jinzhong, was founded in November 2016 to serve trade between Shanxi and Europe on its China-Europe railways system.
Shanxi began to operate the China-Europe freight train service in 2017, with the first train to Europe departing from Zhongding on Feb 15 that year.
Before the operation of the logistics park, Shanxi's exports were made possible either through seaports in the east of China or via other Eurasian rail transport hubs like Zhengzhou, Chongqing and Chengdu.
Since the inauguration of China-Europe freight train from Zhongding, the province has seen a steady increase in the number of trains and in the volume of delivered cargo.
In 2017, there were only 10 freight trains that traveled between Shanxi and Central Asia and Europe. The total number of such trains reached 630 over the past six years, according to local officials.
Shanxi's freight trains have reached a great number of cities in Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. These destinations are mostly in countries and regions involved in the BRI. The initiative was proposed by China in 2013 to improve connectivity and boost international economic exchanges.
Thanks to the service, Shanxi has seen an enriched portfolio of exports, expanding from electronics, machinery, ceramics and steel products in the early years to solar power products, glassware, food, furniture and medical supplies now.
On their return trips, the trains have brought home a variety of products from Europe and Central Asia, like timber and pulp from Russia, copper and cotton from Uzbekistan and metals from Kazakhstan.
Over the past years, Shanxi has developed 10 regular rail routes to link such countries as Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.
The international train services have made Shanxi a hub for opening-up in inland China and contributed to promoting international business cooperation under the framework of the BRI, local officials and industry insiders said.
According to Taiyuan Customs, the volume of Shanxi's exports to and imports from countries involved in the BRI has totaled 288.2 billion yuan ($41.41 billion) since the initiative was launched in 2013. That amount accounted for 22.6 percent of Shanxi's total foreign trade during the period.
To date, Zhongding Logistics Park has developed freight train connections with 26 cities in 11 countries involved in the BRI, according to local officials.
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