The first truck journey between Europe and China has taken place using an international customs agreement that streamlined travel time to just 12 days.
The truck, carrying 12 tonnes of automobile lubricant, began its 7,400km journey in Germany, travelling through Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan before reaching Khorgos, a major Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) port.
The journey was made possible after China last year signed up the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) convention, an international customs transit system that helps to reduce customs waiting times.
In September 2018, Kazakhstan and China opened the border crossing at Khorgos to boost transport and trade along the 8,445km expressway joining western China to western Europe.
By November, the first TIR truck travelled 7,000km from Khorgos, China, to Poland, taking 13 days to complete the journey. The journeys were both conducted by IRU, the world road transport organisation, and logistics companies CEVA and Alblas.
The overland route to Europe will play a role in China’s BRI and allow the country to tap into European markets.
According to Umberto de Pretto, secretary general of IRU, the route will deliver economic and social benefits not only for China but all countries along the BRI route.
The IRU said by joining the TIR, there is potential to increase the total trade volume among China and other major countries along the BRI route by up to $13.6bn.
According to CEVA, the new TIR route could save transport companies up to 50% on door-to-door costs compared to air, and over 10 days delivery time compared to rail.
Siebe Alblas, COO of Alblas, said: “The two pilots prove that both directions of the China-Europe road transport route under TIR are ready to become fully operational, with door-to-door costs and delivery times that are highly competitive compared to other modes of transport.”
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