Ningbo-Zhoushan port: a transport hub on the Belt and Road
In the last days of 2017, a special container was loaded onto a ship at the Ningbo-Zhoushan port.
This container held the one billionth ton of cargo Ningbo-Zhoushan port has handled in a twelve-month period, the first port in the world to achieve this feat.
The Ningbo-Zhoushan Port has the largest and deepest berths in China.
It has engaged in trade with over 600 ports worldwide.
Sun Daqing is vice president of the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port Corporation, which operates this fast developing port in the East China Sea.
"In the end of 2005, the then Party Chief of Zhejiang Province Xi Jinping initiated the plan to combine the two ports of Zhoushan and Ningbo. In 2006 the cargo handling capacity of the combined port for the first time reached 400 million tons, which is equal to 70 million containers. Since then, the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port got on a track of fast–paced development. In 2009 it became the largest seaport in the world and it still holds this position today," Sun said.
Sun Daqing adds that given its important role in trade in ancient China, it is only natural that the Ningbo-Zhoushan port would be a participant in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
"Zhejiang Province has been dedicated to participating in the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, constantly raising the competitiveness of its main ports, improving the supporting services and enhancing transnational collaboration on the sea. Ningbo-Zhoushan port is a perfect example of these efforts, as the government has managed to build it into a transportation hub in the Maritime Silk Road," Sun added.
Up to the end of last year, a total of 86 Belt and Road shipping lines had been opened via Ningbo-Zhoushan port.
For some Southeast Asian countries, the port is also turning into a major transfer station for goods destined for Japan, South Korea, and even to North America.
In 2015, the Ningbo municipal government entered agreements with a number of Central and Eastern European countries to strengthen trade cooperation.
Under the agreements, three direct sea routes have been opened between Ningbo-Zhoushan port and Eastern European ports, including Gdansk Port in Poland and Koper Port in Slovenia.
Agreements for transfer routes have also been put in place with some Mediterranean and Western European ports.
Hong Qihu is the head of business department of the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port Corporation.
"Over 80 percent of international cargo transportation is by sea. A comprehensive port service will boost economic exchange. In return, sound trade cooperation will improve port development. It's a two way street. In recent years, the Ningbo-Zhoushan port has played a key role in connecting Ningbo with some East European countries economically. In 2017, cargo volume between the two sides reached 600 thousand containers. The trade volume is estimated to hit around 20 billion dollars, with an annual growth rate of 28 percent," Hong said.
Supported by the free trade policies and lowered tariffs in the Zhejiang free trade zone, the port is expected to further boost economic development in the Yangtze River Delta.