China-Europe freight train service is normal, but freight flights to Kazakhstan are suspended

A China-EU freight train, carrying juice, plastic products and basic necessities, leaves Xi’an Station in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province heading for Khorgas in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (northwest China), February 22. Photo: cnsphoto

The ongoing riots in Kazakhstan have raised concerns over cargo from China as the country, which borders the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China, has been a major transfer hub for China. China via the China-Europe express trains to Central Asia, Russia, and as far as other European countries.

Sources from customs and freight agencies told the Global Times that the China-Europe freight train service has been going well so far, although there is low efficiency, but air freight is shrinking rapidly in due to the current situation, and the cargo flight between the two will be suspended next week.

A customs source from Khorgas, one of Xinjiang’s most important hubs in Kazakhstan, told the Global Times on Friday that the China-Europe freight train service was normal, with no backlogs.

Urumqi Customs in Xinjiang also confirmed Thursday evening to the Global Times that all was normal for China-Europe express trains crossing Xinjiang.

But there were some disruptions earlier this month following the riots.

“I had originally scheduled 42 containers to be transported by the China-Europe express train from Urumqi to Kazakhstan, but the train was canceled on Tuesday,” an anonymous insider at a Xinjiang freight agency told the Global Times on Friday. .

He said he had to transfer the cabinets to the highway, so they left from Kashi port in Xinjiang, then passed through Kyrgyzstan, then entered Kazakhstan, which increased the cost of transportation to over 3 million yuan ($ 470,374) and the delay time was more than double.

Global Times learned that the poor freight transportation started on January 4, which affected the China-Europe Railway Express to some extent, especially in the network. Due to the complete suspension of the network in Kazakhstan, there was no network at the station, which suspended some customs clearance procedures.

A source from Lianyungang, east China’s Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times on Friday that the operation of the China-Europe freight train is normal there and that the rail network has now been restored, only to be affected by the Internet shutdown delaying administrative formalities. “Returned goods are also received as expected,” the source said.

Although the rail network has been restored, Kazakh customs are not receiving goods normally and the efficiency of operations is low, the Xinjiang Freight Agency said.

China has been exploring China-Europe freight transport for years. The first China-Central Asia freight train from Guangzhou, southern China’s Guangdong Province, to Almaty, Kazakhstan, departed Guangzhou on December 12.

Loaded with a variety of household appliances, hardware and basic necessities worth $ 1.7 million, the freight train’s 100 containers will leave China via the port of Khorgas and arrive in Central Asia in 14 days.

Kazlogistics data showed that from January to October 2021, Kazakhstan completed 19.5 million tons of freight in transit, an increase of 3.7% compared to the same period in 2020. Among them, the volume container transport capacity of the China-Europe express trains was 604,500 twenty feet. Equivalent units, an increase of 36.4% year-on-year.

However, air freight transport fell significantly after the riots in the city compared to the previous month, threatening the freight trade.

As of December 2021, there were 75 direct cargo flights between China and Kazakhstan, but the number fell to eight in the first six days through January 6, according to data from the industry information provider. VariFlight sent to the Global Times on Friday.

Cargo flights were suspended next week, VariFlight said.

Almaty Airport carries 68% of Kazakhstan’s aviation logistics and is the country’s largest international air hub.

In June 2021, an all-cargo plane flew from Novosibirsk, Russia, to Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, and then to Almaty with more than 20 tons of electronic and mechanical parts. It was the first full cargo flight from Qingdao to the countries of Central Asia.

It only takes five hours to fly from Qingdao to Almaty, compared to a train from Qingdao to Kazakhstan in 11 days.

Official data showed that in the first 10 months of 2021, trade between China and Kazakhstan reached $ 20.8 billion, an increase of 14% year-on-year.

China continued to maintain its status as Kazakhstan’s second largest trading partner and for the first time became Kazakhstan’s top export destination.

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