A freight train departs from Yiwu West Railway Station in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, for Madrid on March 9, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
A China-Europe train carrying 100 standard containers of China-made commodities and ceramic products left Yiwu, a major small commodities hub in East China's Zhejiang province, for Madrid, Spain, on Thursday.
On the same day, a train loaded with 70 standard containers of Spanish goods, including red wine and olive oil, departed from Madrid and headed for Yiwu.
The train trips came as Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Spain. The freight train service between Yiwu and Madrid has facilitated trade between the two nations.
Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said the Yiwu-Madrid train has become a carrier of economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchanges for countries along the railway and has built a new bridge for cooperation between countries and peoples
The Yiwu-Madrid train service was officially launched in November 2014, spanning eight countries in Eurasia with a total length of more than 13,000 kilometers.
Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said the Yiwu-Madrid train has become a carrier of economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchanges for countries along the railway and has built a new bridge for cooperation between countries and peoples.
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Zhou Xufeng, who imports Spanish wine and olive oil at the Yiwu International Trade Market, said that over the years, the varieties of imported Spanish products have expanded from wine and olive oil to soft drinks, daily necessities, biscuits and mineral water, and the prices are about 30 percent lower.
"Some 1.5 million bottles of red wine are shipped from Spain through the China-Europe freight train service every year," Zhou said.
Feng Xubin, chairman of freight train operator Yiwu Tianmeng Industrial Investment, said since 2014, the freight train travel time from Yiwu to Madrid has been shortened, and the number of freight trains has increased from one to two per week.
Feng said railway transport is more environmentally friendly and flexible for customized products. It is faster than sea transport and cheaper than air transport.
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By 2022, China-Europe freight trains had made 1,326 trips between Yiwu and Madrid, carrying more than 100,000 standard containers of goods, according to Yiwu Customs. From 2014 to 2022, Yiwu's trade with Spain increased from $400 million to $870 million, local customs data showed.