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China-Laos Railway Sees Import of Laotian Glutinous Rice

By RAN ZHENGICHONGQING|Jun 08,2022

Four containers of Laotian glutinous rice were recently loaded upon a freight train in Vientiane via the China-Laos Railway. After four days of transport, they arrived in Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality and then distributed to other provinces in Western China.

A new journey for Laotian glutinous rice

It is the first time Laotian glutinous rice took the China-Laos train of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC) to enter China. This batch of glutinous rice was transformed into Zongzi (a traditional Chinese rice dish) for the Dragon Boat Festival. Previously, it was difficult for Laotian glutinous rice to enter China’s southwest market due to logistics issues.

On March 2, the launching ceremony of the international freight train of the China-Laos Railway (Jiangjin-Vientiane) was held at the Jiangjin Luohuang Railway Comprehensive Logistics Hub

On March 2, the launching ceremony of the international freight train of the China-Laos Railway (Jiangjin-Vientiane) was held at the Jiangjin Luohuang Railway Comprehensive Logistics Hub. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

“People in southwest China like to eat glutinous rice, but the high cost of logistics and time make it difficult to compete in the market,” said Wu Yang, manager of Minsheng International Freight Forwarding Co., Ltd., who organized this batch.

It takes nearly a month via the traditional logistics route. Last December, as a critical project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Laos Railway from Kunming, China, to Vientiane, Laos, was officially put into operation. This project is mainly constructed by the Chinese side, adopting Chinese technical standards, using Chinese equipment, and directly connected to the Chinese railway network.

Acceleration of the ILSTC construction

According to the data of Kunming Customs District, as of May 25 this year, Kunming Customs has released a total of 573,000 tons of freight on the China-Laos International Railway, with a value of more than 6 billion yuan (about 900 million U.S. dollars).

“At the beginning of running the ILSTC  in 2017, there was only one line. The operation lines have expanded to 319 ports in 107 countries (regions),” said Liu Wei, director of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor’s logistics and operation organization center.

Facing a complex situation such as the COVID-19, the construction of the ILSTC  has accelerated against the trend. “Since the beginning of this year, more than 20 freight trains have been launched on the ILSTC, and the number of new logistics routes have been expanded between Chongqing, Ningxia, Gansu, Hunan and Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, and other ASEAN countries,” Liu said.

Relying on the ILSTC, pitaya from Thailand, Basa fish from Vietnam, and other characteristic products can quickly enter the Chinese market.

High-level opening-up

Chongqing was once regarded as the tail end of opening up due to its geographical location. However, now it has become the front of opening up by relying on the ILSTC, the China-Europe Freight train, the Yangtze River Golden Waterway, and other international logistics channels.

The new journey of Laotian glutinous rice bears witness to China’s unswerving determination to expand opening up. According to data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC), from January to April this year, the total value of China’s foreign trade imports and exports was 12.58 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 7.9%. Among them, exports increased by 10.3% year-on-year, and imports increased by 5% year-on-year.

“The China-Thailand railway is under construction, and the Thai people expect it to open to traffic as soon as possible, to form a transportation channel through China, Laos, and Thailand,” said Pinit, former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and chairman of the Thailand-China Promotion Committee, during in an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency.

Pinit believes that the Belt and Road Initiative is commendable because it brings investment and business cooperation opportunities to countries along the route. China-Thailand cooperation involves durian planting, rubber business, automobile, energy, high-tech, and other industries.

Pinit said that food security issues caused by current supply chains and geopolitical factors are also urgent. He believes that global development initiatives can help countries reduce disputes and return to the track of dialogue, cooperation, and joint development.

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