The Middle Kingdom is the largest importer of goods from Europe. Every year, more and more products of European origin reach the Great Wall. The main means of transport is rail. What do Chinese importers bring in European containers?
The Middle Kingdom is a gigantic consumer market with 1.4 billion potential consumers with purchasing power growing from year to year. The Chinese are very eager to buy an increasing array of products imported European products, which they perceive as superior. According to Eurostat data for the period 2000-2018, the ratio of Chinese European imports to European exports has risen from 20:80 towards 50:50.
What is China importing from Europe?
54% of the imports are machines and vehicles. Industrial products are the second most popular category, followed by chemical, energy, and food products as well as raw materials.
The Chinese have been interested in importing European food products for a long time, as European products are very popular in the Middle Kingdom and have the status of "luxury goods." The Chinese market is more and more open to imports from abroad, much to the happiness of EU exporters. The average Chinese consumer represents a constantly growing middle class – that will soon number almost half a billion people – that prefers to buy imported food. He is convinced that these products are safer than domestic alternatives. PRC citizens want to eat organic and healthy food and receive the freshest products in the shortest possible time and at favorable prices. Such delivery is provided by ecological rail transport which offers fast delivery and attractive prices.
By rail to the Middle Kingdom
The Clients of the international transportation and logistics services provider AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG benefit from holistic export services to China. AsstrA’s process for exporting goods to China can be divided into two stages. The first includes picking up loads in Europe and delivery to partner warehouses near railway terminals in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Belarus. The second is service at railway terminals and export by rail to China.
AsstrA LTL specialist Vlad Martin explains the details of the first stage.
"AsstrA experts form containers. What is it all about? The goods from individual Customers from all over Europe are consolidated so that they fill an entire container that will go to China by rail. Goods can be picked up from several or even a dozen places in Europe. Most often they are France, Italy, Spain, and Germany.
It is worth noting that in each country, AsstrA specialists also organize export clearance on behalf of Clients. This greatly simplifies and speeds up the process of transport to the railway station. Delivery time is extremely important. Goods from individual points in Europe must reach the station just-in-time. Train timetables do not change. If loads are not delivered on time, the train will leave without the goods.
Cargo consolidation is carried out using LTL transport. Depending on the goods, different types of vehicles are used: regular trucks, boxes, refrigerated trucks, and others. If the weight of the load does not exceed one ton and express delivery of the load to the station is required, then we offer dedicated vans as an option.
The consolidated goods go to partner warehouses near a given railway terminal or directly to the terminal itself. There, the baton is passed to the AsstrA Chinese department, which deals with the transshipment of goods to the container and then export to China. Interest in this service is constantly growing. We are receive more and more orders and are gaining more and more Customers."
The vehicles complete loads in the European Union, the CIS, Ukraine, and the Balkans, and deliver goods to railway stations in Poland (Łódź, Małaszewicze, Poznań, and Warsaw), Belarus, Germany and the Czech Republic. There, AsstrA experts offer comprehensive services at the terminal and for exports to China.
"The export procedure is quite simple,” expains AsstrA Chinese Department specialist Pavel Shiryaev.
“AsstrA experts pick up an empty container and send it to be loaded with goods at a given place in Europe, the CIS, Ukraine, or the Balkans or use a standard FTL trailer for loading.
Export clearance takes place after loading. In the case of FTL transport, the goods are first sent to an AsstrA partner transshipment warehouse located near the railway terminal.
The last step is to assemble the container at the terminal 3 days before the train’s departure. It then goes directly to the train or to the yard at the railway terminal. AsstrA offers services at railway terminals in Poland, including Łódź, Małaszewicze, Poznań and Warsaw, as well as at major stations in Belarus, Germany, and the Czech Republic."
The volume of Chinese imports from Europe is constantly increasing. So is the frequency of trains between European and Chinese rail terminals. Currently, trains depart from Europe to China every week, with variations depending on the route. The transit time from Poland to China is approximately 16 days.
"To get your cargo on a train to China, you must first make a reservation and receive the appropriate booking number,” continues Pavel Shiryaev.
“You should also remember to meet a number of requirements such as affixing a seal and properly preparing the appropriate photographic documentation.
In particular, there must be exactly seven photos. The first one presents an empty container, the second shows it when 25% loaded, the third picture at 50%, and the fourth at 75%. The fifth picture should show a full container with one door leaf closed, the sixth one should show the door fully closed, and the seventh one a seal. All procedures are designed to ensure the safety of loads."
The correct arrangement and protection of goods in the container during loading also significantly affects the safety of cargo.
"Goods exported from Europe to China cover over 10,000 km. They are often valuable goods; therefore they should be properly secured so as not to be damaged during transport and handling.
It is worth noting that rail transport from Europe to China is available for all cargoes except dangerous goods. Interestingly, the policies of various countries in this region are slightly different in this respect. Each country has different requirements regarding the hazard classes of goods. What is considered a dangerous load in Europe may not be considered dangerous in China.
Despite some regulatory nuances like that, European goods are becoming more and more popular behind the Great Wall. The Chinese like to buy European goods, thanks to which the volume of Chinese imports from Europe is constantly growing," says Pavel Shiryaev.