Businesses in NE China make best use of support to remain competitive
Of late, electric vehicles have gained in prominence across numerous shopping malls in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Doha, places renowned for their abundant oil reserves.
Several of these EVs — which sit along dedicated parking areas teeming with activity — are manufactured by China FAW Group Corp Ltd.
"Every shopping complex, office tower and residential building in major cities of the United Arab Emirates today is outfitted with charging stations," said Wang Lingyu, vice-president of the overseas business unit of the Changchun, Jilin province-based company.
"Electric vehicles, especially those from China, have become a common sight, marking a profound shift from merely two or three years ago when charging stations in malls were virtually nonexistent, and the demand for them was negligible," Wang added.
China FAW Group's high-end EV brand Hongqi has successfully entered countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Norway in recent years.
The State-owned automaker plans to launch 13 types of EVs under the Hongqi brand by 2025, both for domestic consumption as well as exports.
The decision stems from China's move to propel its northeastern region — encompassing Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces — to accelerate the digital, online and smart transformation of its traditional manufacturing sector and proactively develop emerging sectors such as new energy, new materials, advanced manufacturing and electronics.
FAW's move is just one example of companies in China's northeast seeking new ways to boost exports.
Given the uncertain global economic recovery, many businesses in the region have been seeking fresh growth points to stay competitive by taking advantage of quick Customs clearances, the China-Europe freight train service, and the innovation and production of tech-intensive green products, as well as favorable policies brought on by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership pact.
These have also benefited companies such as BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd, a joint venture between Germany's BMW Group and domestic carmaker Brilliance Auto Group, based in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province. BMW Brilliance Automotive has been able to complete the Customs process, from declaration to clearance, within an hour to export 500 units of its BMW ix3 electric vehicles to Switzerland.
"There has been a surging demand for new energy vehicle products in the international market in recent years. With stable logistics services and high Customs efficiency, we have ensured our delivery capabilities," said Chen Su, an export specialist at BMW Brilliance.
"We are able to operate direct shipments via the China-Europe freight train service and ocean shipping service to over 30 countries, with a significant proportion going to European countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium," said Chen.
Several hundred kilometers from Shenyang, about 4,600 solar energy battery modules are being processed, assembled and packaged through automated equipment such as soldering machines and robotic arms in a workshop owned by photovoltaic products manufacturer Solargiga Energy Holdings Ltd. These products — made in Jinzhou, another city in Liaoning — will be shipped to overseas markets within a few days.
Zhang Shuang, a sales manager at Solargiga Energy, said photovoltaic power generation equipment — as an essential component of green and low-carbon energy — has become a highly competitive product on the international stage.
Visitors check out BMW electric vehicles during an international automobile expo in Shenyang, Liaoning province, in May. (CHINA DAILY)
As China's foreign trade undergoes a green transformation, with traditional export categories making way for a new wave of tech-intensive and environmentally friendly products, Liaoning saw a 76 percent year-on-year increase in the export of the "new three" products — NEVs, lithium batteries and solar cells — to touch 10.89 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in the first half of 2023, data from Shenyang Customs, a local unit of the General Administration of Customs, showed.
The GDPs of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces grew by 4.7 percent, 7.7 percent and 5.6 percent year-on-year, respectively, in the same period.
Jilin and Liaoning have outpaced the national GDP growth average of 5.5 percent, according to information released by the statistics authorities of the three provinces.
Zhao Xinyu, deputy director of the China Center for Public Sector Economy Research at Jilin University in Changchun, said economic growth in China's northeastern region during the six-month period was a result of the upgrading of traditional manufacturing and the strong growth momentum in the emerging manufacturing sector.
The China-Europe freight train service in Shenyang transported a combined 393,100 metric tons of cargo in 34,800 containers through 424 trips from January to June.
This signifies a year-on-year surge of 55.26 percent in cargo volume, a 42.79 percent increase in container quantity, and a substantial 42.76 percent rise in the number of trips.
The transformation is apparent as the range of goods transported through the China-Europe freight train service centered in Shenyang has consistently expanded, and the overall structure has become increasingly rational, according to Yu Long, an official at Shenyang Customs.
It all began with small commodities initially, but the scope has expanded to encompass industrial products like machinery and automotive components.
As of the end of June, this long-haul freight train service had successfully transported goods from over 300 different categories, setting a record, he said.
Zou Kuan, vice-president of Shenyang-based elevator manufacturer Yuanda Intellectual Industry Group Co Ltd, said that in addition to relying on ocean shipping routes, the company uses the China-Europe freight train service to ship its products from Shenyang to various locations such as Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk in Russia. These trips take between 20 and 25 days.
"The transit time for this cross-border railway service is one-third that of sea freight, and the cost is only one-fifth of airfreight," he said.
The company has consistently enjoyed popularity in the markets along the routes of the China-Europe freight train service. It witnessed an export growth of 15 percent year-on-year between January and June this year, Zou added.
Luo Renjian, a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Research, which operates under the National Development and Reform Commission, said that compared to sea and air transport, "the China-Europe freight train service is less affected by natural conditions, offers high stability, and is particularly attractive for products with a certain volume scale and high timeliness requirement".
Highlighting that the northeastern region has a solid industrial and scientific research foundation, and is now shifting from traditional to new industrialization, Li Zheng, dean of the school of economics at Liaoning University in Shenyang, said new breakthroughs will be made in the comprehensive revitalization of the region during the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.
Meanwhile, China's latest policy measures to attract global capital, enhanced trade ties with the signatory countries of the RCEP agreement, and the tangible growth of the Belt and Road Initiative will further optimize the business environment and stimulate the vitality of market entities in its northeastern region, said Zhang Yi, head of the National Academy of Social Development Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.