New Silk Way: Yuzhnouralsky logistics center
26.09.2013 17:12

The construction of the Yuzhnouralsky transport and logistics center has begun in the Uvelsky district of the Chelyabinsk region. This is an ambitious project that has been endorsed by the SCO. Its fundamental goal is to allow increasing the trade turnover between Russia and China. When it is inaugurated, time needed to deliver cargoes will be reduced to ten days. At present, it takes almost two months by sea and a month by the Trans-Siberian railway. As they say, the game is worth the candle.

The government of Russia’s Chelyabinsk region and representatives of the people’s government of the Xinjiang-Uygur autonomous area of China (XUAR) launched the construction of the Yuzhnouralsky center.

Sergei Komyakov, chairman of the regional government, and Shi Dagang, deputy head of the XUAR government, together laid the first stone and a time capsule – a letter addressing future generations – in the foundation of the future center.

The legal framework of the project, which allowed launching it, is the agreement on cooperation on the Yuzhnouralsky center, which was signed in May 2012 by the Chelyabinsk region’s governor Mikhail Yurevich and the government of the XUAR. It envisages the construction of a huge logistics center that would distribute Chinese goods that have undergone customs clearance to any area of Russia. The inter-state agreement was endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“A little time has passed since the signing of the agreement,” Sergei Komyakov points out. “The project offers absolutely new opportunities to optimize transport flow and turn the South Ural area in the center supplying goods from Asian countries to Europe. The project has been coordinated at a high inter-government level. It has received support from the Business Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. A lot of preparatory work has been done. All organizational problems have been settled.”

Kazakhstan’s national railway company has joined the ambitious project initiated by the Urals region. It will ensure a “green corridor” for Chinese goods coming to Russia and back. A corresponding agreement was signed a week ago.

“At present, cargo shipments from China to Russia by sea takes about 50 days, the distance is 23,000 km; shipments by the Trans-Siberian railway (12,000 km) will take over a month, but the new route, from Urumchi to the Yuzhnouralsky center across Kazakhstan, is just 3,000 km and takes ten days. The center will receive up to 400 containers from China daily, or, approximately 2.5 million metric tons of cargo a year. And this is only the first stage,” Komyakov emphasized.

The governor said that his Chinese counterpart had promised to increase the trade turnover and supply up to 10 million metric tons a year, and added, “Our transport and logistics center will manage that amount, too.”

Centers of business activity are now actively moving from big industrial centers to provinces. Apart from the construction of the transport and logistics corridor in the Uvelsky region, Komyakov pointed to the example of the district power plant that is being built in Yuzhnouralsk and the crane plant in Korkino.

“China and Russia are fast-developing countries,” said Shi Dagang. “The Chinese say that together we can achieve a lot. This road opens a door to both Russia and Europe for us. Our goods will spread all over the world. We are also interested in receiving high-quality goods from Russia. Indeed, this is a new Silk Way!”

But what is the Yuzhnouralsky project? It takes up 180 hectares. The center itself will take up 120 hectares, and 60 hectares will be allocated for the industrial zone. Investment in the first stage of the project amounted to €120 million. The general investor was Russia’s State Transport and Logistics Company. Kazakh companies are also involved in the project: Kedentransservice will provide comprehensive support to container shuttle shipments, while the railway company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy will be responsible for railway shipments across Kazakhstan. The center’s cargo turnover will be 2.5 million metric tons a year.

What tasks will Yuzhnouralsky’s launch resolve? The fundamental goal is to make it possible to increase Russian-Chinese goods turnover. The center’s setup will reduce the time of goods shipments to ten days. At present, it takes almost two months by sea and a month by the Trans-Siberian railway. Kazakhstan has also joined the project. The agreement with it guarantees a green corridor for cargo shipments across the republic’s territory. The center will process 2.5 million metric tons of cargo a year, and the amount may be increased to 10 million.

Goods turnover with China is among Russia’s top five, but it is not the biggest yet. The Yuzhnouralsky center that is under construction will allow using the potential for its increase. It will process about 400 containers daily. Then there will be change of tracks for cars, transit across Kazakhstan, storage and distribution of containers that will move in different directions: from China to Russia and Europe and back.

So the Chelyabinsk region is becoming an important link between Asia and Europe.