Feature: Direct shipping route sees growing demand in booming China-Britain trade
LIVERPOOL, Britain, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The Port of Liverpool in northwestern England is dotted with cranes loading and unloading cargo at container terminals. The China Xpress service of the British company Allseas Global Logistics is working to ensure the flow of goods continues unabated between China and Britain.
With the launch of a direct shipping route in April 2021, Allseas has recently provided service every 10 days from China to Britain and vice versa, with vessels capable of carrying 1,500 to 1,700 containers port to port from such Chinese cities as Shanghai and Ningbo to Liverpool in 30 days, according to the company.
In just one year, the shipping route between Liverpool and Shanghai has developed from a short-term temporary arrangement to a long-term and fixed route, said Zheng Zeguang, Chinese ambassador to Britain, at a ceremony held on April 26 at the Port of Liverpool celebrating the first anniversary of China Xpress.
"The fast growth fits the needs of trade between China and the UK against the pandemic and proves the potential and resilience of trade between the two countries," he added.
Darren Wright, managing director of the Allseas Group, told Xinhua that the idea of a new trade lane came in early 2021 when customers were struggling to move cargo from China into Britain because of the COVID-19 pandemic and problems related to various ports and shipping lines.
At first, Allseas charted three vessels in April 2021 to ease some difficulties, but "quickly the word spread, and we had three full ships within a matter of days of announcing to the market," Wright said. With such growing popularity, a plan to establish regular sailings was on the table.
Wright told Xinhua that transit times are much shorter with China Xpress. "The fact that we're only calling at few ports in Asia and limited ports in Europe means that we're not having the problems with congestion," he added.
The shipping route saw over 60,000 containers move in and out of Britain over the past year, supporting more than 200 local businesses, according to Wright.
At the ceremony, Claudio Veritiero, chief executive officer of the Peel Ports Group, the owner of the Port of Liverpool, said British customers appreciate the benefits of a direct service for key products to complement transshipment routes to the port. More investment is on the way, not only in terminals but in warehousing and logistic solutions to ensure cargo reaches markets quickly.
"Our business recognizes the value of being a gateway for China and the opportunities that this creates," Veritiero said. "From a local perspective, we're delighted that this growth has helped drive and support further investment in people and jobs."
As a significant center for shipping and manufacturing in Britain, Liverpool has played an essential role in furthering Britain-China economic relations.
With the rapid development of China's economy and the establishment of the sister-city relationship between Shanghai and Liverpool, Liverpool and China have become increasingly close in exchange and cooperation in trade, investment, culture, education and sports, Zheng said at the ceremony.
As Liverpool boasts one of the oldest Chinese communities in Europe, "we continue to grow in our relationships," said Paul Kallee-Grover, chairman of the Liverpool China Partnership.
Noting that partners in China offered much-needed assistance during the pandemic, Kallee-Grover expressed hope for a closer bilateral relationship. "We look forward to the opportunities not just for goods coming back into our city, but the opportunity for people to travel between our two countries," he said.
In 2021, China remained Britain's third-largest trading partner and the number one source of imported goods. Trade in goods between the two sides exceeded 100 billion U.S. dollars.
The win-win nature of China-Britain business cooperation remains unchanged, Zheng said, noting that especially in recent years, products from China that are good value for money have supported Britain in fighting the pandemic and curbing the pressure of rising prices, while famous-brand products from Britain meet the diverse needs of China's huge consumer market.
The ambassador said China stands ready to share opportunities, pursue common development and work together with Liverpool to promote the sound and steady progress of the two countries' relations.
Allseas now plans to cooperate with more ports in China. With the possibility of more vessels in operation, the company aims to offer a weekly service.
"China now is manufacturing quality products, and on scale, nobody else in the world can do that," Wright said. "And we are big buyers, we love internet shopping, and we love buying products. So the trade will only increase and increase, and it's a perfect partnership."