Creating a New Platform of International Cooperation under ‘the Belt and Road’ Using the Mountains and the Sea as the Bridge
At the beginning of 2021, right here in the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area (SCODA) close to Jiaozhou Bay, the Qingdao International Business Club (Pakistan) and the Pakistan China Center were officially launched. With a total area of around about 1,300 m2, the Qingdao International Business Club (Pakistan) is a national-level cooperation platform between China and Pakistan. Its mission is to strengthen bilateral industrial cooperation and proactively deepen people-to-people exchanges in education, culture, sport, etc.
As we head into the new year, the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area (SCODA) has been officially approved as a trade service-oriented national logistics hub, and the dividend from the Belt and Road (Qingdao) SME Cooperation Area is paying off more rapidly. By the end of this February, 49 projects have been put into production in the SCODA, with a total investment of RMB 41.62 billion yuan; 73 projects have accelerated their progress, with a total investment of 192.2 billion yuan.
On the last day of 2020, the People's Government of Shandong Province promulgated the Measures on Supporting Building of the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area, which contains 18 measures such as implementing the "negative list system" for delegation of powers, encouraging piloting work and developing new business forms for international trade, accelerating the construction of the SCODA anew. According to Zhang Peng, Director of the SCO Coordination Division under the Department of Commerce of Shandong Province, the departments and bureaus of commerce in Shandong Province will present a well-organized 2021 SCO International Investment and Trade Expo to the highest standard this year, and plan for the events for celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They will also work to launch a series of activities themed "Silk Road E-Commerce" for introducing specialty products of the SCO countries to Shandong and to prepare for the SCO College of Economy and Trade and the Economic and Trade Development Research Center, creating a new platform of international cooperation for "the Belt and Road Initiative".
In addition to investment, the driving force of the SCODA is also showing off for international trade in Shandong. Data shows that in 2020 the total annual volume of foreign trade in goods has grown by 10% in the SCODA, and the total volume of foreign trade reached RMB 158.32 billion yuan between Shandong Province and other SCO Member States. In the first 2 months this year, Shandong achieved a total volume of foreign trade of RMB 29.61 billion yuan with other SCO Member States, with a year-on-year growth rate of 9.7%, including RMB 15.77 billion yuan of export volume, up 54.9%.
"One of the most important tasks for Qingdao Customs is to continuously improve the trade volume between Shandong and other SCO Member States, facilitate trade growth in the SCODA, and drive the building of the SCODA.," said He Shuishan, Director of Qingdao Customs. Last year, Qingdao Customs compiled an innovative "China Trade Index for SCO Countries" by taking the lead in implementing the Two-Step Declaration and Two-Stage Access systems and in carrying out reforms in proactive disclosure, fault-tolerant mechanism, etc. It has also taken the lead in establishing the Qingdao Inspection and Testing Certification Association and is exploring the possibilities of building a testing alliance for SCO countries, creating an SCO-China communication and service platform for public testing. Proceeding from 5 aspects, namely, deepening institutional innovation, implementing process reengineering, giving full play to functional advantages, combining concrete conducts proactively and optimizing service mechanism, Qingdao Customs is working to meet the construction requirements of the SCODA in an all-round way.
He Shuishan indicated that Qingdao Customs was planning to do a good job in four aspects for the SCODA this year: sea, land, air, and railway. In this regard, the "sea" means the designated supervision area for inbound cargo in Jiaozhou will be upgraded to a customs supervision workplace that aligns with Qingdao Qianwan Port, and a customs inspection center will be established to benefits the SCODA. The "land" means Qingdao Customs supports building the customs supervision workplace and building an SCO TIR transport hub, giving rise to an integrated customs clearance service system that covers outbound cargo staging, TIR customs declaration, inspection and other necessary procedures. The "air" means Qingdao Customs supports accelerating the construction of the Qingdao Airport Comprehensive Bonded Area, meeting the requirements for the settlement of key projects and for the development of key industries in the SCODA. The "railway" means Qingdao Customs will improve the functions of the SCODA Qingdao Multimodal Transport Center as a port, improving the volume of railway-based international trade with other SCO countries.
Businesses benefit the most from the building of a high-level platform for opening up. "The fulfillment and development of the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area have endowed our businesses with new development opportunities," said Zhang Quanwen, Business Director of the Transfar (SCODA) International Logistics Port. A core enterprise in the SCODA, Transfar played an active role in the construction of the five centers for the SCODA last year. By establishing an international industrial park of economic and trade cooperation described as "integrating exhibition, trade, warehousing and transport both online and offline", Transfar (SCODA) International Logistics Port achieved significant growth in 2020, with a business revenue of over RMB 13 billion yuan and a cargo throughput up to 6 million tons.
"Recently, thanks to the support of the customs, the SCO customs supervision place for Transfar's International Logistics Port has been put into overall construction." Talking about situations of this year, Zhang Quanwen expressed that, on this basis, the company plans to build an international multimodal transport and transfer center which integrates sea, road, air and railway transport and to create a global central warehouse for the SCO, thereby providing domestic and international customers with a comprehensive and convenient platform of cross-border supply chain service. "The trend for the development of this new international cooperation platform in the SCODA gives us the confidence to settle in here, expanding our business for future success." said Zhang Quanwen. (Dazhong Daily)