Land and water intermodal transport–a new mode for container export in the Yangtze River Delta


I. Overview of the Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration

The Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration is the urbanized region with the most developed economy and the highest concentration of urban agglomerations in China. The Yangtze River Delta is one of the most active regions in China’s economic development. It accounts for only 2.1% of China’s land area, and concentrates on China’s 1/4 economic aggregate and more than a quarter of industrial added value. It is regarded as an important engine of China’s economic development.
The Yangtze River Delta Economic Circle is China’s largest economic circle, with the comprehensive strength ranking the first, the economic aggregate equivalent to 20% of China’s GDP, and the annual growth rate much higher than the Chinese average. The Yangtze River Delta is also the largest area for China’s opening up to the outside world. The region has a strong industrial base, developed commodity economy, and convenient water and land transportation. It is China’s largest foreign trade export base. The GDP of some cities has grown at a rapid rate, and the total economic output of each city has basically exceeded 100 billion yuan.
The Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration is located in the cities of Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui. It consists of a number of cities with Shanghai as the core and close links. It is mainly distributed in the optimal and key development areas of the national “two horizontal and three vertical” urbanization patterns. The planning scope includes: Shanghai; Jiangsu province: Nanjing, Wuxi, Changzhou, Suzhou, Nantong, Yancheng, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Taizhou; Zhejiang Province: Hangzhou, Jiaxing, Huzhou, Shaoxing, Jinhua, Zhoushan, Taizhou; Anhui Province: Hefei, Wuhu, Maanshan, Tongling, Anqing, Zhangzhou, Chizhou and Xuancheng. All these 26 cities occupy an area of 211.7 thousand square kilometers, the regional GDP in 2014 was 12.67 trillion yuan, and the population was 150 million, accounting for 2.2%, 18.5%, and 11.0% of the national totals.

 II. Shipping logistics planning in the development planning of the Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration

The planning of shipping logistics in the 2016 National Development and Reform Commission’s “Changjiang Delta Urban Agglomeration Development Plan” is as follows:

 ——Development belt along the Yangtze River. Relying on the Yangtze River Golden Waterway, we will build an integrated transportation corridor along the Yangtze River, promote the orderly use of the Yangtze River coastline and optimize the layout of river and sea ports, and build the river and sea Intermodal Port Area along the Yangtze River downstream from Nanjing, and promote the construction of the industrial transfer demonstration zone in the Anhui river city belt, create a Yangtze River economic leading areas with port-based manufacturing and shipping logistics development, promote the integration of cross-river linkages and port-production cities, build a base for the transformation of scientific and technological achievements and industrialization, and enhance the role of radiation in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

——Coastal development belt. Adhere to the coordination of land and sea, coordinate and promote the development and utilization of marine space, land-based pollution prevention and marine ecological protection. Rationally develop and protect marine resources, actively cultivate port-by-port manufacturing, marine high-tech industries, marine service industries and characteristic agriculture and fisheries, promote the multimodal transport of rivers and seas, build port logistics, heavy chemical and energy bases, and promote the construction of coastal ecological towns in an orderly manner. Accelerate the construction of Zhejiang Marine Economic Demonstration Zone and Tongzhou Bay River-and-Sea Development Demonstration Zone, and build a marine economic development zone that is coordinated with ecological construction and environmental protection, driving the overall economic development of northern Jiangsu and southwestern Zhejiang.

 III. The new trend of shipping logistics in the Yangtze River Delta

According to the above development plan, we can see that the Chinese government has attached great importance to the construction of shipping logistics in the Yangtze River Delta, and has made arrangements in various regions and in all aspects. After three years or so, the actual work has been carried out very orderly. We can see from the following news:

  1. Today, Huzhou and its surrounding export foreign trade containers are loaded at container terminals such as Anji Shangang Port, Changxing Jietong Port, Deqing Multi-purpose Port, through river-sea combined transport, water and water transshipment, be transported to Shanghai Port and Ningbo Zhoushan Port for further exported to countries along the Belt and Road route. Last year, Huzhou Port’s container throughput reached 478,000 TEUs, accounting for 62% of the province’s inland river container transportation.
  2. As the first Class II waterborne port on the Huaihe River, the Bengbu Class 2 waterborne port project was started in January 2018. Up to now, the project construction has been completed and entered the comprehensive acceptance phase of the project. It is expected to be put into operation in the first half of this year. At that time, the port will open the foreign trade container business and increase the foreign trade container routes of “Bengbu-Shanghai” and “Bengbu- Lianyungang”. It is reported that the future development of Bengbu will focus on domestic and foreign trade container and rear integrated logistics business, give full play to the advantages of the largest port on the Huaihe River, strengthen the river-sea combined transport, build a green port, build an inland river international port, and contribute to the local industrial and agricultural development.
  3. On July 29th, the Ministry of Transport held a national on-site promotion meeting for high-quality development of inland waterways in Suzhou. The participants investigated the inland river container terminals of Suzhou Industrial Park, and said that with the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, the Yangtze River Economic Belt development, the implementation of major national strategies such as the integration of the triangular region, the demand to guide urban spatial layout, industrial structure optimization, economic transformation and upgrading through transportation is more urgent, and the promotion of high-quality development of inland navigation can be expected in the future.
  4. Dushan Port, located at the mouth of Hangzhou Bay, is a good port on the north bank of Hangzhou Bay. Dushan Port Economic Development Zone relies on this advantage to actively cooperate with Shanghai. The Shanggang Group Pinghu Dujiang Port Terminal, which started operations in September 2013, is the feeding port of Yangshan Port. It mainly carries out the “Land-to-Water” container freight business from Dushan Port to Shanghai Yangshan Port, and is promoting the waterborne transit shipment of the “River-and-Sea Intermodal Transportation”. In the first half of 2017, the terminal completed the throughput of 75,000 TEUs, an increase of 10.2% over the same period last year.

 IV. Reasons for the new trend of container export mode in the Yangtze River Delta

As can be seen from the above news, the previous model of the container exported from the Yangtze River Delta was from the loading factory to the port of departure, and the whole process was transported by truck. At present, a large part of it has been converted to the combined transport of land and water, using the Yangtze River, the Grand Canal and the ocean. This new mode has the following reasons.

  1. Cost saving
    It is well known that the cost of water transport is lower than land transport. The combination of land and water transport can reduce partial cost.
  1. Environmental protection
    The problem of environmental pollution in trucks has always been criticized. With this intermodal approach, many container trucks do not have to enter port cities. Great help to reduce pollution.
  1. Promote the coordinated development of port and shipping logistics industry in various cities
    The use of land and water transport, in the city where the factory is located, requires the supporting yards and docks and other facilities, which can drive the development of relevant local industries and positively drive the GDP of the local cities. It also does not affect the throughput of the final port of shipment to Shanghai, Ningbo and other places.

These three reasons, together with the guidance of the national Belt and Road policy, make the locals very keen on the promotion of this mode. The inland river ports along the Yangtze River rely on the Yangtze River natural waterway for land and water transport, and the cities with natural seaports such as Jiaxing rely on the sea to connect with Shanghai and Ningbo to do sea and sea transport. The situation of traditional container trucks has been changed to a large extent.

 Our conclusion:

  1. From the perspective of sustainable economic development and the concept of green development, this trend will continue and expand.
  2. Our vast China freight forwarding companies must recognize this trend, change the previous traditional operational ideas, keep up with the development trend, and provide our customers with more selective container transportation solutions.

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