China, Spain strengthen relations through a new belt, road construction

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Being an indispensable trade partner to China in Europe, the Chinese government in collaboration with Spain, has embarked on the construction of new belt and roads.

Spain is the most prolific trade partnert of China in Europe, as China remains her largest non-EU trade partner of Spain, with a bilateral trade estimated to over $30 billion.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a bond linking more and more Chinese and Spanish, which the Yiwu-Madrid freight route is an example.

The 13,052-kilometer railway starts from eastern China’s city of Yiwu, which is the longest among all China-Europe freight routes, and also the one that crosses countries with the highest cargo load factor. In addition, it is the longest freight train route in the world as well.

According to the General Manager for Imports at Zhejiang China Commodities City Group Company, He Jinfa, “It takes a minimum of 16 days for the train to arrive in Madrid from Yiwu, which opened a safe, efficient, convenient and green logistics channel for China-Spain trade exchanges.”

Currently, three trains run on the track from Yiwu to Madrid every week, and one operates the other way around.

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So far, 13 autonomous communities, as well as major seaports and inland ports of Spain have established cooperation with the rail route for joint development of the cargo service.

Available reports show that Yiwu’s imports from Spain hit $10.1 million last year, 106.97 percent higher from a year ago, and showing a three-fold increase in the transaction between Spain and Yiwu when compared with that of 2014.

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Vice President of CEOE, a Spanish institution which represents the business community, Juan Lazaro, stated that “China-Europe freight trains are creating opportunities for Spain.”

Apart from the China-Europe cargo service, the investment from Chinese enterprises to major Spanish ports in recent years also contributed to the rapid growth of Spain’s trade with China as it has largely improved the operational efficiency of these ports.

On June 12, 2017, China’s shipping company COSCO Shipping Ports, signed a deal with Noatum Ports Holdings, NPH, the largest operator of container terminals in Valencia, Spain, to buy 51 percent equity of the latter.

“Chinese team brought advanced management and operation mode, creating new opportunities and benefits for the Spanish port city and its people,” said Mar Chao, Commercial and Business Development Director of the Port Authority of Valencia.

The NPH handled a total of over 3 million twenty-foot equivalent units, TEUs, in the first 10 months of this year, registering a 12.8-percent growth year on year.

It handled 326,000 TEUs in May alone, the best single-month performance since the establishment of the company.

CEO of NPH, Sun Kai, noted that “At present, the company has 416 employees, only 3 of whom were sent from China. Along with more than 1,000 positions from labor outsourcing, the company has created over 1,500 jobs for the local community.”

Also in 2016, Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica started cloud services in Brazil, Mexico and Chile by adopting cloud technologies and experiences of Chinese tech giant Huawei.

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In 2017, Chinese oil and gas enterprise Sinopec and Spanish-based general contractor Tecnicas Reunidas S.A. established the consortium Al Zour Refinery in Kuwait.

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In 2018, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China led financing to encourage Chinese and Spanish enterprises to build photothermal power plants in Dubai.

On Oct. 16 this year, China Three Gorges Corporation and Spanish constructor ACS Group agreed to jointly develop and construct the 1,100-megawatt Inga III Hydro-electric Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is another successful cooperation between Chinese and Spanish companies to expand third-party markets.

In recent years, enterprises from the two countries have conducted batches of projects in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America through financing, labor division, technology cooperation and consortiums.

Secretary of State of Trade from Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Xiana Margarida Mendez Bertolo told People’s Daily that third-party market would be a focus of China-Spain cooperation.

Chinese and Spanish enterprises enjoy complementary advantages in multiple aspects, she said, adding that they can not only enhance cooperation in third-party markets in Latin America and Africa, but also jointly explore the markets of other Belt and Road countries and regions.

Citizens from Madrid take photos with a promotion board of the Yiwu-Madrid train. Photo by Jiang Bo from People’s Daily

Overseas Chinese in Madrid welcome visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo by Du Shangze from People’s Daily

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