Experts: Transit port to bolster regional growth

By Zhong Nan ( Updated: May 17, 2023

China's move to add Vladivostok in Russia as a cross-border transit port for domestic trade shipments from Jilin province will further bolster economic growth in its northeastern region, trade and logistics experts said on Tuesday.

Starting on June 1, goods shipped from Jilin to domestic destinations can travel through the port in Vladivostok, a city in the Russian Far East, China's General Administration of Customs said in an online notice late on Monday.

This decision is in line with the national strategic plan to boost the old industrial base in Northeast China and simplify cross-border transportation of domestic goods via international ports, the GAC said.

Domestic cross-border transportation refers to the transportation of goods originating from within the Customs boundaries, which are shipped from domestic ports of departure and transported through foreign countries to other domestic ports of arrival, according to the Beijing-based China Chamber of International Commerce.

China has been implementing this approach to reduce the transportation costs of bulk goods for businesses in Northeast China since 2007. It allowed the transfer of goods from Heilongjiang, another northeastern province, to ports in neighboring countries for transit and subsequently to ports in its southern provinces for entry, following international transit protocols.

This move aligns with internationally accepted Customs practices, and China has accumulated practical experience in this area over the years, said the head of the GAC's Department of Port Control in another statement released on the administration's website.

Xiao Wen, a professor at the School of Economics at Zhejiang University, said Northeast China — comprising Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces — serves as a vital production and storage hub for industrial goods, raw materials, grains and energy.

However, the region has faced limitations in its economic growth due to the challenges in transporting goods to the country's eastern and southern regions. Adding Vladivostok as a transit port is expected to address this issue by enhancing accessibility to seaports for Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, Xiao said.

Feng Hao, a researcher at the National Development and Reform Commission's Institute of Comprehensive Transportation, explained that previously, goods from Heilongjiang and Jilin had to be transported by road and railway to Dalian, a port city in Liaoning province, before being transferred to other ports across the country, such as Shanghai, Ningbo in Zhejiang province and Guangzhou in Guangdong province.

"This shipping process required additional time and expenses," Feng said, noting that with the option of transferring goods through Vladivostok, which houses Russia's largest port in the Pacific Ocean, the land transportation distance can be significantly shortened in the coming years.

The reduced distance will in turn cut costs for manufacturers and commodity providers in Northeast China.

Companies in Jilin and Heilongjiang won't necessarily have to use the Dalian port, which can be more than 1,000 kilometers away from certain cities in these two provinces, said Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

In contrast, Vladivostok port is situated less than 100 kilometers from the Chinese border and about 500 kilometers from the provincial capitals of Jilin and Heilongjiang, respectively.

The establishment of the new transit port in Vladivostok will also serve as a catalyst for attracting investment and business opportunities to Northeast China in the next stage, said Bai Ming, deputy director of international market research at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

By opening Vladivostok port, China and Russia can further collaborate on port construction and logistics development, thereby boosting the economic dynamism of Northeast China and growth of Russian Far East, he said.