Zhang Qingping, general manager of a bioscience company in northwest China's Gansu Province, is thrilled to see that the first batch of wheat he ordered from Kazakhstan has arrived.
The 600 tonnes of wheat reached the bonded zone of the provincial capital of Lanzhou on Wednesday by train. It is the first time for the zone to receive grain imported from Central Asia.
Zhang, with Lanzhou Haixiang bio technology company, ordered 9,000 tonnes of wheat from Kazakhstan.
One week ago, the first batch of 600 tonnes of goods arrived at the Alataw Pass in Xinjiang. Due to the difference in the width of railways in China and Kazakhstan, inbound freight trains need to be reloaded at the Alataw Pass.
Ding Dashuai, field manager of Alataw Pass Zhengmao international freight agent company, said the number of freight trains carrying Kazakh wheat to various parts of China has increased in recent years.
Kazakhstan is sparsely populated, with abundant sunshine and large temperature variation between day and night. The country produces high quality wheat, corn, oats and other crops.
Just a few years ago, high-quality wheat from Kazakhstan was mainly exported to Europe, Central Asia and other places, while China received only 2 million tonnes every year, less than 20 percent of the total export.
"Due to limited transport capacity and high logistics costs, many Kazakh companies would not give priority to export to China," said Chen Dehong with Kazakh grain company TOO Polaris Grain.
The expansion of the China-Europe international freight train service boosted grain trade and agricultural cooperation among Belt and Road countries.
At the same time, many places around China are constructing designated ports and processing trade bases for imported grain.
In 2017, Lanzhou began to prepare for the grain and oil imports from Kazakhstan. In 2019, the designated inspection field of imported grain in Lanzhou passed the acceptance of the General Administration of Customs.
Thanks to the improved convenience, a growing number of Kazakh grain enterprises began to pay attention to the huge Chinese market.
Chen Dehong said that in 2016 alone, 600,000 tons of Kazakh wheat were exported to China through his company, the number is expected to reach 1 million tonnes in 2019.
"Some Russian and Ukrainian companies have also contacted me," Zhang said, looking forward to more cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road.