Initiated in 2014 by China and three Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), the “China-Europe Land-Sea Express” is now in good shape as trade volumes continue to pick up. Since February, the construction of a customs information center and a focal point for customs clearance coordination has been well underway, in which Shenzhen, one of the core cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, takes a leading role.
The “China-Europe Land-Sea Express” (hereinafter referred to as “the Express”) stretches from Greek Piraeus Port in the south to Budapest, Hungary in the north, passing through North Macedonia and Serbia.
It is considered a “third trade route” besides the traditional maritime route and China-Europe Railway Express. The express line enables faster logistics for goods from the Far East and Central Europe, cutting 7 – 10 days on import and export compared with traditional maritime transportation.
In the China-CEEC summit last February, China advocated the construction of a customs information center and a focal point for customs clearance coordination for countries along the Express, and proposed “Smart Customs, Smart Borders and Smart Connectivity” on a pilot basis.
A month later, the focal point for customs clearance coordination was officially set up in Shenzhen, bringing the Greater Bay Area into the picture. Shenzhen swiftly established necessary communication and consultation channels and has ever since been dedicated to constructing “Smart Customs” with the application of cutting-edge tech like 5G, blockchain and the IoT.
The following April, right after a meeting with several European countries along the Express, Shenzhen put into effect 16 measures to forge a closer bond with CEEC including a counterpart cooperation between Shenzhen Yantian Port with Greek Piraeus Port and expanding the scope of Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL). This marks a huge progress in building “Smart Borders”.
The blueprint, in fact, covers more than CEEC. By pushing pilot programs in Israel as well as improving information sharing and bonded area management with Hong Kong, Shenzhen customs has been reinforcing trade between the Greater Bay Area and the outside world.