Qingdao plays pivotal role as trade hub connecting world

By He Wei| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-06-11

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A stevedore works at Qingdao port in Shandong province, July 1, 2015. [Photo/IC]

The city of Qingdao, Shandong province, which hosted the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit over the weekend, has become an essential hub linking China with other SCO member states.

A major port city, Qingdao boasts 65 major shipping routes connecting key regions of the world and plays a crucial role in forging global trade and economic ties.

Over the past three years, the city has signed several port cooperation agreements with other cities, including St. Petersburg, Russia, and Gwadar, Pakistan, helping to enhance its trade links with SCO members.

Overland transportation options are also efficient ways to transport cargo.

"From 2010 to the end of May, we've seen more than 3,000 freight train trips," said Xing Fangmin, a staff member at the Jiaozhou Bay International Logistics Harbor in Qingdao. "With a travel distance of about 4,500 kilometers, goods can reach Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan within two weeks. We call it the Iron Silk Road."

Qingdao is looking to position itself as a strategic hub in the network of global trade routes China is building as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, said Wei Huaxiang, deputy secretary-general of Shandong's provincial government.

In the first quarter of this year, trade between Shandong and SCO member countries hit 28.7 billion yuan ($4.48 billion), representing 6.7 percent of the province's entire foreign trade volume and leaving significant room for growth, he said at a news conference in Qingdao on Friday.

In the first four months of 2018, Qingdao's total imports from SCO member states reached 4.55 billion yuan, up 49.5 percent year-on-year, according to the local customs house.

By the end of last year, Qingdao enterprises had signed agreements for 284 investment projects with SCO companies, according to People's Daily, which cited official data.

Qingdao and the rest of Shandong province plan to use contacts forged at the just-concluded 18th SCO Summit to further open up its economy by establishing provincial-level cross-border economic and trade parks at a faster rate, Wei said.

The idea is exemplified by the efforts of Haier Group, the Qingdao-based home appliances giant. In 2016, the company invested $50 million to build a new plant in an economic zone in the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia. By May last year, the plant had produced more than 100,000"Made in Russia" refrigerators, the company said.

"Our sales in Russia jumped by 55 percent year-on-year to reach $220 million in 2017," said Wang Ting, operations manager of Haier's Russian branch. "High-end multidoor refrigerators claimed 48 percent of the Russian market share, making us essentially the market leader in the segment."

Wei said Qingdao is on course to build a demonstration zone to promote trade between China and SCO member countries inside the Eurasian Economic and Trade Cooperation Industrial Park. The plan has been approved by the Ministry of Commerce.