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China-Myanmar Economic Corridor Gains Momentum with Enhanced ILSTC

By RAN ZHENG|Nov 09,2023

Chongqing - On October 27, Yangon Port, Myanmar's largest port situated along the fertile plains of the Irrawaddy Delta, now links Southwest China's Chongqing directly to the Indian Ocean through the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC), promising brisker maritime connections.

Containers are neatly stacked at the Yangon port, Myanmar, on October 27. (Photo/ Zhou Qi)

Shuttle slashing over 30 days of transportation

On the evening of October 19, two cross-border highway shuttles, laden with automobile and motorcycle parts, depart from the Chongqing Nanpeng Highway Bonded Logistics Center. These goods, destined for Chongqing Shunjunyi Import & Export Trading Co., Ltd. customers, made a swift journey to Yangon, arriving just four days later via Ruili Port in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Cross-border highway shuttle services are critical to the ILSTC and are primarily facilitated through China-Myanmar road-rail intermodal transportation, which was inaugurated in April 2018 and runs about 2,700 kilometers from Chongqing to Yangon. This route eclipses traditional sea routes in speed, reducing transport times by over 30 days and costing a third of air freight.

Ding Shunli, the general manager of Shunjunyi, explains, "Myanmar is one of our main markets. More efficient road logistics resulting in faster capital turnover." 

Moreover, the company's diverse trade items, including auto parts, medicinal herbs, and agricultural products, now benefit from streamlined logistics service facilitated by Chongqing Gongyun ASEAN International Logistics Co.

Ding adds, "We only need to provide the loading and unloading points along with customs clearance files; the Gongyun company handles everything else." Remarkably, 90% of Shunjunyi's cargo now utilizes these cross-border road shuttles.

Rail-road integration fortifies the economic corridor

Beyond the highways, the ILSTC boasts rail links. This April witnessed a dispatch of the cross-border rail-road intermodal train from Chongqing, packed with 32 containers, marked the first route of China-Myanmar cross-border rail-road transport through Ruili export. 

The first cross-border road-rail intermodal train (Chongqing-Ruili-Myanmar) of the ILSTC departed Xiaonanya Railway Logistics Center in Jiangjin District, Chongqing, on April 3, 2023. (Photo/ Zhou Qi)

This journey, beginning at Xiaonanya Railway Logistics Center and proceeding to Myanmar via Wanding Port in Ruili, presented an alternative to the traditional river-sea intermodal transportation, with savings of 20 days.

According to Liu Wei, director of the logistics and operation coordination center of the ILSTC, " This route serves as Chongqing's fresh corridor to Southeast Asia.

The current China-Myanmar intermodal transportation framework has two major routes. The Chongqing-Ruili/Wanding-Yangguang road-rail intermodal transportation reaches over ten Myanmar cities, including Naypyidaw and Mandalay. Meanwhile, the Chongqing-Myanmar-Indian Ocean road-sea route extends Myanmar's maritime reach into the Middle East, East Africa, and Europe through the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal. 

The operation data of the ILSTC China-Myanmar intermodal train. (Graphic/ Zheng Ran)

The synergy between Chongqing and Myanmar grows

The convenience of transportation has brought Chongqing closer to Myanmar. 

The inauguration of the Consulate General of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Chongqing in July 2022 and the opening of the Myanmar Promotion Center in Bishan District signify deeper integration within the "Belt and Road" initiative (BRI). The center educates visitors about Myanmar's rich heritage and culture and displays a variety of the country's specialty products.

A recent trip to Myanmar by a delegation from Bishan District, which involved over ten government and business entities, including the Myanmar Investment Commission and the Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce (MCCOC), highlighted the earnest pursuit of fortified investment and trade connections.

Lin Wenmeng, President of the MCCOC, optimistically notes, "The BRI promises mutual benefits to bring Chongqing closer to Myanmar markets. We planned a delegation to learn more about Chongqing to foster stronger business ties."


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