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Faster speed and lower costs – why has the China-Europe rail line been such a success?

Increased speeds and falling costs could see the China-EU land bridge handle more freight, some 2m teu a year, while IMO 2020 has the opposite effect on sea freight.

Head of Russian Railways Oleg Belozyorov told delegates at the International Railway Congress in Vienna that new projects would boost transit times and create a better service for shippers.

“A few years ago, we could only speculate that around 600,000 containers would travel through Russia. Now, this has been achieved. We have seen an increase of an additional 30% on the previous year. We could reach 2m teu a year or more,” he said.

With trade between China and the EU worth some $5trn, Mr Belozyorov pointed out that the two economies were now connected via the land bridge – but the service could be improved, he believed.

Russian Railways plans to reduce transit time from China to the western border of Russia to seven days, while increasing the speed of the trains so they can cover 1,500km a day, up from 1,150, following the completion of infrastructure projects.

He added that construction of the 1,520mm gauge Košice-Bratislava-Vienna railway line would also add efficiencies.

“This project will bring the work of the railways to a new level,” said Mr Belozyorov. “We will try new technologies to speed up border crossings and unify legal issues. We need to focus our attention to ensure that it takes place as soon as possible.”

But he also called for “a unified regulatory framework”.

“Much has been done as part of the International Union of Railways, but more work is necessary. We need to quickly cross borders. We can cover long distances quickly, but the cargo sits at the border under customs clearance two whole days,” he said.

One way would be to increase training and add new technologies, he argued.

“We are accustomed to traditional railway professions, and we need to create new professions based on the use of new digital technologies. These will be the real railway workers of the future,” he said.

Another key aspect would be digital technologies,

“Tools such as blockchain and smart contracts can allow us to make decisions in a matter of seconds and save billions of dollars.”

Rail is gaining more traction in the market, with its combination of speed and price attracting some shippers. Last year, costs fell, while speed increased, according to a Drewry report.

2018 saw 370,000 teu transported by rail between China and the EU, up 35% on a year earlier. Some 75% of that was routed via Kazakhstan, with gross transit volumes up 59% as the number of trains grew as well as the number of containers per train. The imbalance also improved – there was a 90% increase in eastbound trains compared with a 37% increase in westbound trains.

Drewry also noted that the rates were less volatile than in ocean freight, and that costs had fallen.

Sea freight, meanwhile, is expected to see a significant rise in costs following the implementation of IMO 2020 fuel regulations, while ships are also expected to opt for more slow-steaming. Rail costs, however, will fall while speed increases.

china usa

U.S. and China Near Deal That Could End Most U.S. Tariffs

The U.S. and China are close to a trade deal that could lift most or all U.S. tariffs as long as Beijing follows through on pledges ranging from better protecting intellectual-property rights to buying a significant amount of American products, two people familiar with the discussions said.

Chinese officials made clear in a series of negotiations with the U.S. in recent weeks that removing levies on $200 billion of Chinese goods quickly was necessary to finalize any deal, said the people, who weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the deliberations. That’s the amount the Trump administration imposed after China retaliated against the U.S.’s first salvo of $50 billion in tariffs that kicked off the eight-month trade war.

One of the remaining sticking points is whether the tariffs would be lifted immediately or over a period of time to allow the U.S. to monitor whether China is meeting its obligations, the people said. The U.S. wants to continue to wield the threat of tariffs as leverage to ensure China won’t renege on the deal, and only lift the duties fully when Beijing implemented all parts of the agreement.

As part of the ongoing talks, the U.S. asked the Chinese not to retaliate or bring World Trade Organization cases in response to U.S. tariffs that could be imposed to enforce the deal, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Stocks in Europe and Asia advanced on optimism about a deal, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rising 0.4 percent. The offshore yuan gained 0.2 percent.

Dates for a summit between President Donald Trump and counterpart Xi Jinping have yet to be agreed, according to officials from both countries who declined to be named. The Wall Street Journal, which reported earlier that the U.S. and China were close to finalizing a trade pact, reported the summit could happen around March 27.

Plans for a signing ceremony have been complicated by Xi’s need to lead China’s annual National People’s Congress and to make other foreign trips.

U.S. and Chinese officials “have conducted fruitful and intensive consultations and made important progress on many issues of common concern,” Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress, the annual session of China’s legislature, told reporters in Beijing on Monday. “We hope that the two sides will continue to hold consultations and reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement,” he added.

China’s Offer

China is offering to lower tariffs on U.S. farm, chemical, auto and other products, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation. Specifically, China would buy $18 billion in natural gas from Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc., one of the people familiar with the matter said.

As part of a deal, China is pledging to speed up the timetable for removing foreign-ownership limitations on auto ventures, and to reduce tariffs on imported vehicles to below the current rate of 15 percent, the newspaper reported.

A senior administration official cautioned on Sunday that a decision had not yet been made over lifting the U.S tariffs. The official also said a debate was continuing inside the administration with Trump unlikely to make a decision before a deal was closer to being done, likening to situation to the debate over what to do with U.S. sanctions in the lead-up to last week’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Asked during a congressional hearing last week whether a deal would see a lifting of U.S. tariffs, Robert Lighthizer, the China hawk now leading the talks with Beijing, would say only that was China’s desire.

Source: Bloomberg.com

china usa

China-US trade war tariffs force manufacturing moves

The failure of the US and China to agree on trade at the weekend makes further tariffs on Chinese goods to the US seem increasingly likely.

But while most economists agree that trade wars are ineffective and harmful, some players in the logistics industry are seeing opportunities – mostly in air freight, which typically benefits from chaos and change.

The likelihood of 25% tariffs on a wide range of goods has seen the ocean freight industry surprisingly busy in the past couple of weeks, as exporters look to move goods to beat the 1 January deadline.

But ultimately, shippers and logistics service providers are looking to new manufacturing possibilities – and therefore supply chains – in South-east Asia.

Large numbers of US companies are talking of shifting manufacturer. Robert Rucker, CEO of The Tile Shop, said in an October earnings call: “With the Chinese tariffs, we are looking at moving. And right now: we’re at roughly 50% of our product coming out of Asia, my goal is to get that closer to 25% or even lower, and the potential for doing that right now is very good. We’re not waiting.”

James Simms, CFO of Vicor Corp, said in his earnings call: “The cost, going forward, may not be inconsequential, given the volume of components currently sourced from China. We are seeking non-Chinese alternate vendors.”

And Todd Bluedorn, CEO of Lennox International: “I’m not sure the Chinese tariffs are going to be short term. And so we’re taking action to sort of avoid the tariffs by moving to South-east Asia and other low-cost countries that can meet our requirements.”

It will take a while for companies to build new supply chains, and in the meantime carriers are already benefiting.

“It is the peak for China to the US, but it’s compounded by tariffs,” said Robert van de Weg, vice president sales and marketing for Volga-Dnepr Group. “There is a build up.

“A lot of this inventory was supposed to go by ship, but it’s going by air to be on time.

“If tariffs have a general effect on the economy and trade flows, there will be some change before it settles down into the new equilibrium.”

The question for carriers will be when to add capacity – and to where.

“South-east Asia could see new trade flows, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh,” said Mr van de Weg. “There will be more opportunities out of South-east Asia and a degree of chaos, as the supply chains won’t be ready. Plus, factories will have to move. However, I don’t believe the change will be sharp and sudden.”

AirbridgeCargo (ABC) is the V-D group’s Asia specialist and is currently looking at developing its South-east Asian network.

“We are looking at increasing the frequencies and maybe opening new markets. You don’t want to be too early, you don’t want to be too late. Don’t miss the boat, but don’t lose your shirt. You need to be prepared to go in. Increasing frequencies to existing points is the first step.”

ABC currently operates to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Singapore and Taipei.

Mr van de Weg added: “Bangladesh is interesting. We have made progress on ACC3 certification there. We also think Indonesia and Thailand have potential. There is more and more infrastructure and more overland networks with Cambodia and Vietnam, and there is also a strong import market.”

Air freighter volumes appear to be rising in the region, with Thailand seeing international volumes this year above the market average growth, at more than 6%.

Cambodia’s Phnom Penh saw 24% growth, year on year, in cargo volumes in September. The Vietnamese civil aviation authority is forecasting 18% growth annually in freight volumes each year up to 2020.

Source: The Loadstar

China flag

China to ban the recycling of international ships

China plans to stop allowing the recycling of international ships at its yards as of the beginning of 2019.

The decision comes on the back of China’s efforts to crack down on polluter and waste producing industries in the country, which have seen many yards denied their ship recycling licenses.

The Chinese-flagged ships will be allowed to continue to be dismantled at Chinese yards, however, the Government of China will no longer provide subsidies for the branch, as decided last year. Due to such a turn in policy, local owners are likely to look elsewhere to retire their ships, including India.

“In view of this, owners will have to succumb to the fact that, with the exception of Turkey, the H.K Convention approved recycling yards in Alang will have to be taken more seriously following the incredible improvements that have been made at these yards over many years and the fact that these yards now can only offer owners the only alternative at this current time for green recycling,” Clarksons Platou Shipbroking said.

Two years ago, industry leader Maersk committed to investing in Alang yards and boosting their operational standards to comply with the company’s requirements.

Chief Executive Officer of  A.P. Møller – Mærsk A/S, Søren Skou, said recently that some yards in Alang, India, are performing at the same level or better than yards in China and Turkey, “which used to be the only options for economically viable and responsible ship recycling. “

Explaining its approach, Maersk said that the company helps the yards to upgrade their practices while contractually requiring full implementation of its standards controlled by on-site supervision throughout the process as well as quarterly audits by third parties.

Even though the situation is far from perfect, especially when it comes to health hazards at the shipbreaking yards in Alang, Maersk believes that helping the yards to improve their standards is an opportunity to change the industry for the better.

However, for a more sustainable progress to be made more shipowners need to become involved.

From a total of 206 ships, which were broken in the first quarter of 2018, 152 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for breaking, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

Despite a considerable improvement made by some shipbreakers, a great majority of south Asian yards are notorious for their poor environmental and healthy and safety practices.

It is quite common for workers to suffer serious injuries or even get killed due to exposure to various types of risks ranging from falling objects to intoxication.

So far this year, 10 workers have lost their lives and 2 workers have been severely injured when breaking ships in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Another two workers were reported dead after an accident at a shipbreaking yard in Alang, India, data from NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows.

Source: World Maritime News

canton fair

We are attending the Canton Fair

Supreme Freight Services LTD are excited to announce that we will be attending this years Canton Fair. (Also known as the China Import and Export Fair).

Canton Fair is a comprehensive international trading event with the longest history, the largest scale, the most complete exhibit variety, the largest buyer attendance, the broadest distribution of buyers’ source country, the greatest business turnover and the best credibility in China. It is renowned as “China’s No.1 Fair”.

It was established in 1957 and is held every spring and autumn.  It boasts an exhibition area of 1.18 million m² per session, with 150,000 exhibit varieties in 16 industries, and the number of exhibitors from home and abroad stands at nearly 25,000.

In each session, about 200,000 buyers attend the Fair from more than 210 countries and regions all over the world.

The Canton Fair Schedule is as follows:

Phase 1 (April 15-19, October 15-19):
Electronics, lighting equipment, vehicles & spare parts, machinery, hardware & tools, construction materials, chemical products, energy resources, and international pavilion

Phase 2 (April 23-27, October 23-27):
Consumer goods, gifts, and home decorations

Phase 3 (May 1-5, October 31-November 4):
Textiles and garments, shoes, office supplies, cases and bags, recreation products, food , health products and medical devices.

The fair is held at:

382 Yuejiang Zhong Road, Guangzhou, China

Clients can meet with our team face to face discuss their shipping requirements.  We can also offer help and advice and information for travel, accommodation & a local complimentary taxi service. We look forward to meeting as many of our existing clients as possible as well as any potential new clients. Please come and find us at the fair, and contact us if you need any help or information beforehand.

For more information please visit the Canton Fair website:

http://www.cantonfair.org.cn/en/index.aspx

polar silk road

China longing for a Polar Silk Road

Following on from their Silk Road direct link, China are now looking to capitalise on a Polar version.

The first silk road train from China to Britain arrived in February of last year – (see our news post at that time for more information)

China now plans to create a Polar Silk Road of new Arctic shipping lanes, to extend the Belt and Road initiative created by President Xi Jinping.China is a non Arctic state, but is becoming more active in the polar region, and even became a member of the Arctic Council back in 2013. The council has eight permanent members made up of the five coastal Arctic countries, Norway, Russia, Canada, U.S. and Denmark, and three non coastal members, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.

They have this week published their Arctic Policy Whitepaper.  in which they set out that as a result of global warming, the Arctic shipping routes are likely to become important transport routes for international trade. China respects the legislative, enforcement and adjudicatory powers of the Arctic States in the waters subject to their jurisdiction.

According to the paper China, as a responsible major country, is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to seize the historic opportunity in the development of the Arctic, to address the challenges brought by the changes in the region, jointly understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, and advance Arctic-related cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to build a community with a shared future for mankind and contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic.

Global warming in recent years has accelerated the melting of ice and snow in the Arctic region. As economic globalisation and regional integration further develops and deepens, the Arctic is gaining global significance for its rising strategic, economic values and those relating to scientific research, environmental protection, sea passages, and natural resources.

With the ice melted, conditions for the development of the Arctic may be gradually changed, offering opportunities for the commercial use of sea routes and development of resources in the region. Commercial activities in the region will have considerable impact on global shipping, international trade and energy supply, bring about major social and economic changes, and exert important influence on the way of work and life of Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples.

Shipping through the Northern Sea Route would shave almost 20 days off the regular time using the traditional route through the Suez Canal, the newspaper reported last month.

In 2017 a Russian tanker made the journey from Norway to South Korea without need of an icebreaker for the first time, because of climate change.

However, there are misgivings from other countries who believe this to be an example of rapid Chinese expansion and a chance to use resources that should be beyond their reach.  China refers to itself in the paper as a ’near-Arctic state’ and as such believes that its close geographical location means that the natural conditions of the Arctic and their changes have a direct impact on China’s climate system and ecological environment, and, in turn, on its economic interests in agriculture, forestry, fishery, marine industry and other sectors. However, oil, gas and mineral resources are also part of the rich range of resources that are present in the Arctic, and China seem keen to capitalise on those. Fishing, scientific research and mining are also possibilities and China requests involvement due to the direct impact that the Arctic has on their climate system, ecological environment and economic interests.

Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said at a briefing “Some people may have misgivings over our participation in the development of the Arctic, worried we may have other intentions, or that we may plunder resources or damage the environment, I believe these kinds of concerns are absolutely unnecessary.”

In the conclusion of the paper, China state that the future of the Arctic concerns the interests of the Arctic States, the wellbeing of non-Arctic States and that of the humanity as a whole. The governance of the Arctic requires the participation and contribution of all stakeholders. On the basis of the principles of “respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability”, China, as a responsible major country, is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to seize the historic opportunity in the development of the Arctic, to address the challenges brought by the changes in the region, jointly understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, and advance Arctic-related cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to build a community with a shared future for mankind and contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic.

China have already proved their expansion plans through their earlier silk road and belt initiatives which although could take up to half a century to complete, ultimately should succeed. Safeguarding the environment of the arctic has to be a priority in a time of global warming, and with China pushing ahead it is down to the other members of the Arctic Council to make sure that they are doing as they say they would and keeping to the premise that the counties can work together to build a better Arctic for many centuries to come.

golden week

ALERT: Golden week and the implications for shippers

As part of celebrations for golden week, also called National Day, a major holiday is coming up in China from Saturday 1st October for a week, officially ending on the 7th but with effects lasting until the 10th.

It has been celebrated in mainland China and Hong Kong since 2000. The holiday was implemented by the Government to encourage domestic tourism and allow families to make long distance trips. This means that businesses come to a standstill.

All businesses will be closed, cargo flights are cancelled and ports operate on basic crews. Shipping quotes will be hard to obtain as nothing moves in or out.  Vessels are usually under capacity at this time so don’t sail.

Our advice is plan ahead! Contact us as soon as possible for rates and availability to secure your shipment in time. Please also be advised that there will be a back log of orders and freight after golden week which will mean that space will be at a premium.  If a shipment is time critical it is important to be organised before next week.

You can submit an enquiry through our website, send us an email or call us on 02380 337778.

We look forward to hearing from you.

china uk

First rail freight service to China has departed from the UK

The first rail freight service from the UK to China departed on its 17 day, 7500 mile journey on April 10th.

British goods including soft drinks, vitamins and baby products are in the 30 containers carried by the train, which will be a regular service.The DP World locomotive left its terminal in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, for Zhejiang province, eastern China. It will pass through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. It is cheaper to send goods by train than by air and faster than by sea, according to its operators.

The first rail freight service in the opposite direction, from China to the UK, arrived three months ago, the link to the news article we wrote is here. The new service is linked to Chinas One Belt One Road initiative, something we discussed in our news post here.

International trade minister Greg Hands said: ‘This new rail link with China is another boost for global Britain, following the ancient Silk Road trade route to carry British products around the world.‘It shows the huge global demand for quality UK goods and is a great step for DP World’s £1.5 billion London Gateway port as it also welcomes its first regular container ships from Asia.’

The train finally arrived in China on the 29th April (2 days later than the predicted 27th) and was greeted by traders and shipping company officials when it arrived at Yiwu West station.

one belt one road

China’s One Belt One Road Initiative – how will it affect global trade?

Since 2013 China have been advertising the One Belt One Road initiative, a scheme to join a network of roads, ports, railways and other links from East China through Southeast and South Central Asia to Europe.

This belt of land based links is paired with the Maritime Silk Road, which stretches from Australia to Zanzibar. The initiative involves developing six economic “corridors”: 1. a China-Mongolia-Russia corridor; 2. a new Eurasian “Land Bridge”; 3. a corridor from China to Central Asia and Western Asia; 4. a China-Indochina peninsula corridor; 5. a China-Pakistan economic corridor; and 6. a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor.

Back in 2011, US President Barack Obama launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trading bloc across the Pacific region. The TPP is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States (until January 23, 2017) and Vietnam.

Now that Obama successor Donald Trump has carried out his pledge to withdraw from the TPP, the expectations are that Chinese-backed strategies like the OBOR will gain momentum. China experts say that this is a positive development, but there is scepticism over whether Beijing will follow through with the large amount of funding needed, whether big debt-financed projects bankrolled by China will benefit the recipient countries, and whether those projects will actually make sense in the long run.

China experts and economists say that the initiative makes sense and that it will accelerate as the U.S. turns more insular under Trump. “It is unfortunate that many U.S. diplomats and members of the previous administration worked for nearly a decade to push toward the TPP and now it is torn apart,” says Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong. The U.S. is turning its back on the rest of the world at a time when the world needs an open and engaged America, he says. “It is very likely and understandable that China … will try to fill those gaps with this initiative, and that is very logical — it’s something the U.S. will later deeply regret,” Kuijs says.

One of the main factors driving the OBOR effort is the slowdown in China’s own economy. With this in mind the policies are seeing a drive to create new markets for Chinese goods, political influence in the region, and security for the country’s natural resources supply chain. The initiative is part of the larger plan to shift Chinese goods to markets and to create jobs for Chinese companies. The infrastructure also means that products can get from China to Europe in days rather than weeks – a significant reduction in cost and time.

It seems that moving forward without relying on trade from the US and other larger countries, and also Great Britain post Brexit, China is moving to become even more of a global trade super power. Realising that there has been a shift in the global trade agreements in recent years means that China is reacting proactively to an ever changing market. Forecasts show that the OBOR project may take half a century or more, but ultimately is more than likely to succeed.

china uk

6 Top Tips for importing goods from China

In the current economic climate post Brexit, leaving the EU means that foreign relations have become more important than ever. Here are our 6 top tips for importing goods from China…

1. Ensure that the goods are permitted in your country, and that they are correctly classified. International trade is heavily regulated, and Supreme Freight can make sure that all your goods have the correct classifications, such as CFSP, IPR, OPR and warehousing entries, not forgetting BTI classification.

2. Do you need an import license? Do you need to pay VAT and Duty? This is dependent on the classification of the goods. Here at Supreme we can give expert advice to help simplify the process for you to make sure that the correct documentation is in place for your shipment.

3. Choose the right method of transportation. When importing from China the usual methods are either sea or air freight. If there are no time restraints and larger quantities, then sea freight may be preferable. If you would like your goods quicker and with higher levels of security, then air freight would be recommend. If you choose sea, then we can handle all types of cargo including full container load (FCL), less container load (LCL) and NVOCC groupie shipments. If air is your preference our team at Heathrow Airport offer a range of direct and indirect shipment services. Choice and flexibility are paramount and we work closely with both our client and supplier to design a schedule and transit time that will suit your requirements.

4. Track your cargo. Make sure you choose a forwarder who can track your goods. Our tacking page offers detailed information and insight to the status and progress of your shipment, for both sea and air freight. [link to tracking page]

5. Arrange collection of your shipment. We offer a door to door service if required which is convenient and flexible, and also offer container and cargo storage which is a crucial aspect of the supply chain.

6. Don’t forget the Chinese New Year! How can you avoid delays?! By making sure that your order is placed in plenty of time, November at the latest.

Happy importing!
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