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First regular container train brings Ukrainian exports to China

First regular container train Ukraine-China. Photo: Yevhen Solonyna / RFE/RL
First regular container train brings Ukrainian exports to China
Article by: Yuliia Rudenko
Edited by: Alya Shandra

The first of many container trains carrying Ukrainian goods to China set off on its journey on 28 September. The 43 containers of 40-foot carrying timber will reach Xi’an in 18 days, traversing 10,000 km, or 6214 miles.

Container trains connecting China and Ukraine were regularly launched in July last year. Since then, as many as 52 trains have reached Ukraine. The first container train from the Asian country arrived on 9 June 2020. Now, the trains have started operating in the opposite direction. The trains are part of the international rail freight transport China-Europe, which saw over 50 thousand trains in the ten years of its operation.

In the launch of the train earlier this week, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mykhailo Lev noted that this route will accelerate freight traffic between the countries and allow for Ukraine’s export of limited shelf life production and high-tech goods. He also pointed out that as of July 2021, the Ukrainian-Chinese trade exceeded $10 billion — 30% more than in the previous year.

According to Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov, it is vital for Ukraine to integrate into the global multimodal transport system. The EU’s share of container traffic amounts to 45%, while in Ukraine it stands at only 2,5%. The country’s task for the next few years will be to upgrade its infrastructure and develop the sea-to-rail format to open up its potential for multimodal transportation with the Asian states.

China’s Ambassador to Ukraine pointed out that Ukraine’s new export route will allow the country to become a convenient logistics hub between Europe and Asia. “We need to work insistently for Ukraine to become another vital junction on the way of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he added.

Kyiv is enhancing economic and thus political cooperation with Beijing amid a chill in Chinese-Western relations. The West views the Belt and Road Initiative as an expansionist project.

Earlier, on June 30, Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov and Minister of Commerce of China Wang Wentao signed a secret agreement regulating the participation of Chinese companies in large infrastructure projects in Ukraine. This happened just a few weeks after Kyiv, reportedly being pressured by China, dropped its signature from a UN complaint about the rights of Uyghurs, an ethnic minority China has been accused of conducting genocide on. The move sparked discussions on Zelenskyy’s possible foreign-policy shift from the West to Beijing.

Edited by: Alya Shandra
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