The China import market is of increasing interest to many UK small businesses as the China economy continues to expand.
But freight forwarding from China is something that UK businesses see as something of a mystery, compared with freight forwarding to and from Europe and other more familiar countries.
It is important to take advice from a freight forwarding company with experience of China import as China is expected to continue to be the leading factory of the world, with its efficient manufacturing, low labour costs and high quality international freight infrastructure.
Although labour costs in China are rising, they remain competitive and, with the possible exception of apparel, it is predicted that China will further increase its share of global production. In particular, there is ample scope to increase exports to Europe, where levels of China import do not yet match the US levels.
As China's economy is growing so fast, there are many infrastructure changes happening that affect freight forwarding and other freight services. This means that it can be hard for the business owner to keep up to date on all the changes that may affect his own international freight.
For example, to cope with growth in freight forwarding, new container ports are being built and existing facilities expanded along China's eastern coast.
There is already a capacity shortage problem in Shanghai, so we are now seeing expansion of deepwater ports in Ningbo, especially after the recent opening of the Hangzhou Bridge.
The port of Shanghai is fighting against its flagging growth and is implementing strategies designed to turn Shanghai into a major Asian hub to rival Hong Kong and Singapore. This will be achieved partly by establishing feeder ports along the Yangtse River, establishing a regional feeder network with Shanghai as the centre of a massive international freight hub.
This international freight development ties in with the government's plan to create a year round shipping channel from Chongquing to the sea. By summer 2009, when the Three Gorges Dam is completed, the average river journey time between Chongquing and Shanghai will be cut in half, to about seven days. And this will be complemented by a billion dollar riverside railway project that will slash the journey time between Chonngquing and Shanghai from 41 hours to 10.
These kind of huge infrastructure projects are happening all over China and revolutionising the options for international freight forwarding from China.
UK businesses that are entering the China import market should make sure that they choose a freight forwarding company with know-how, up-to date knowledge and an experienced local network of freight forwarding agents. Not all shipping companies can provide this winning combination.
The importance of a strong local freight forwarding network cannot be emphasised enough, when it comes to China import, so choose your freight company wisely.
In Chinese culture, conducting business is based on trust and relationships, therefore it is vital to appoint a freight forwarder or shipping company with a network who have already established this trust.
Stephen Willis is Managing Director of RW Freight Services, a UK based freight company, established in 1971 and operating worldwide freight forwarding services.
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