An aerial view of Beibu Gulf Port in Qinzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

NANNING-As the most convenient access route to the sea for southwestern China, Beibu Gulf Port has been among the country”s leading ports in terms of cargo throughput growth rate since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The port in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region not only plays an important role in the latest round of large-scale development in the region, but also injects impetus into the country’s new round of opening up.

Its cargo throughput rose 21.68 percent year-on-year to 181.67 million metric tons in the first three quarters of 2020, and its container throughput topped 3.51 million 20-foot equivalent units in the period, up 34.93 percent year-on-year, according to Beibu Gulf Port Group.

“The accelerated construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor brings vitality to Beibu Gulf Port,” said Wei Tao, chairman of the group.

The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by inland provincial regions and countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The port currently has 268 productive berths. A total of 52 shipping routes link the port with 237 ports around the world, including major ASEAN ports.

As an important transit location on the corridor and the closest seaport for landlocked Chinese provinces, the port saw a total of 3,174 train journeys on its land-sea freight route in the first three quarters, surpassing last year’s total. The busy activity continued in October, as shipping vessels took up berths at the port area one after another.

“As of September, our company had received over 10 percent more shipping orders compared with the same period last year,” said Wei Renguo, general manager of the Nanning subsidiary of SITC Container Lines Co Ltd.

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Wei said SITC is a shipping logistics company and its business in Beibu Gulf Port has been largely unaffected this year. The company even opened a new route to ASEAN countries when the pandemic was still severe.

“With the construction of the international gateway port here in Beibu Gulf, the proportion of our business on ASEAN routes has been increasing,” Wei added.

In recent years, Beibu Gulf Port Group has expanded its investment in Malaysia’s Kuantan Port and Brunei’s Muara Port and has also promoted negotiations with other ASEAN countries on port development and construction cooperation.

The bonds between Brunei and China have been getting stronger since the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation to promote the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor in 2014, said Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, Brunei’s minister at the prime minister’s office and second minister of finance and economy.

The expansion of the project is currently underway, further deepening cooperation between ports in Brunei and Guangxi, the minister said, noting that both sides are committed to providing more trade facilitation services by using advanced port facilities.

In September 2019, Beibu Gulf Port and Yangon Port of Myanmar signed an agreement to establish a sister port relationship, providing favorable conditions for Myanmar to strengthen cooperation with ports in the pan-Beibu Gulf region and participate in the construction of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.

U Kyaw Myo, Myanmar’s deputy minister of transport and communications, said practical results have been achieved in port cooperation between Myanmar and China. They not only help enhance the comprehensive strength of Myanmar’s ports but also benefit the livelihoods of locals.

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The National Development and Reform Commission released a plan last August for building an international comprehensive transport hub and an international gateway port in Beibu Gulf.

Guangxi has been promoting the construction of transportation infrastructure in recent years, with the international gateway port in Beibu Gulf taking shape.

“Beibu Gulf Port Group is planning to invest about 32 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in building a professional, large-scale and intelligent port, and make it a world-class automated container terminal,” Wei said.

Via China Daily