China sets up new consolidation centre in Kazakhstan

20 September 2023

China has started the operation of a new consolidation centre located in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The new location will service the “Qilu” China Europe trains, connecting Almaty with Jinan in eastern China in seven days. The first train departed from the new consolidation centre on 3 September, carrying 1.040 tons of wheat distributed in 40 containers. The consolidation centre is a joint venture between Chinese company Shandong Hi-Speed Group (SDHS), the “Qilu” China Europe Express operator, and Atasu group, which owns the Almaty rail terminal. The terminal covers an area of 650 thousand square metres and can digest 100 trains per month. The new consolidation centre, on the other hand, will mostly provide the service of storage, distribution, customer clearance and bonded warehousing for Central Asian products heading to China.

Central Asia oriented. Though branded as China Europe trains, the new location mostly serves the volume between China and Central Asia. The new consolidation centre “is a concrete outcome of the China-Central Asia summit”, Qifeng Wang, chairman of SDHS, told Chinese state media. On the other side of the route, Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province, has the strategic advantage of connecting the Central Asian market with Japan and South Korea through intermodal services, given the geographical proximity and the accessible Shandong Port at the coast.

The volume between Central Asia and China is also on the rise. For example, Kazakhstan and China have recently signed an agreement to reach a total rail transportation volume of 26.8 million tons at the end of this year, 3.6 million more compared to 2022. Exports from Kazakhstan to China will benefit the most, accounting for 25 per cent of the increase.

Not the first overseas centre This is not the first time China has set up an overseas logistic centre serving a Silk Road train service related to a specific Chinese city. In June this year, Yixinou set up a new distribution centre in Duisburg. Yixinwu is the operator company of China Europe trains that link Xinjiang and Yiwu in China with Duisburg, Hamburg and other European destinations via Malaszewicze. Different from the new consolidation centre in Almaty, the Yixinwu distribution centre focuses on distributing westbound products from China to Europe.