Harbin rail line nexus of blossoming Russia-China seafood trade relationship

Published on
September 21, 2023
The "Binhai No.1" train line in Harbin, China.

Faced with local government debt worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese municipalities have been searching for sources of income and economic growth, leading the local government Harbin, a city in northeast China, to launch a new railway transport line to foster seafood trade with Russia.

A cold-chain railway connection between the port city of Vladivostok, Russia, and the inland city of Harbin will enable the neighboring nations, which have bolstered their relationship as the Ukraine war has realigned global trading patterns, to develop an effective seafood-processing chain, said Cui Yirui, deputy director of the Management Committee for the Harbin Comprehensive Free Trade Zone.

Cui was one of several officials who spoke at an event marking the first service of the new rail line, which featured a train carrying 300 metric tons (MT) of frozen pollock. A Harbin city plan, announced by Yirui, to fortify a CNY 10 billion (USD 140 million, EUR 120 million) processing industry within three years is ambitious given the challenges besetting the industry, such as overcapacity in traditional processing hubs like Dalian.

Nonetheless, Harbin – traditionally an entrepot for Sino-Russian trade – is looking to cash in on increased trade and energize the Chinese whitefish-processing industry. To do so, Harbin customs authorities are willing to cut through red tape by providing “tailor-made customs clearance” for the new rail line, according to Zhang Lei, deputy director of the Xiangfang Office of Bingcheng Customs. Zhang promised that his office would arrange special personnel to track the status and arrival of goods while also speeding up their customs clearance.

Harbin, by contributing to the nationwide trend of provincial officials tapping the seafood industry for growth, wants to expand its role as a ... 

Photo courtesy of Ice City Plus

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