DHL Global Forwarding is offering shippers a new multi-modal service between China and Japan, which it says cuts costs by up to 60 percent compared to air freight options.
The service uses 12-foot containers that can be picked up from any location in China. They are then trucked to Shanghai by truck, taken across to Hakata in Japan by ferry and then delivered across the coutry by Japan Rail, which also provides westbound pick-up and delivery.
The ferry leg of the service is viewed as a prototype for how ro-ro could eventually play a key part in intra-Asia trade. Operated by Shanghai-Hakata Super Express, the twice-weekly services offers transit times of 40 hours, including loading and unloading and benefits from priority customs clearance.
Take up by the electronics industry has been high, not least because the service is exempt from port charges at Shanghai and enjoys berthing preference.
"While we can ship just about anything to and from China on this multi-modal service starting with electronics, the next big potential we see is from the fashion and apparel sector -- the biggest mover of goods from China to Japan -- and the automotive sector, a key sector moving goods in both directions," said Kelvin Leung, CEO, Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding.
“The next step for us is to introduce a less-than-container-load option into this service, something small and medium enterprises especially can look forward to."
The service was only made possible recently when DHL was licensed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to use railway for cargo transportation in Japan.
The 12-foot containers are used at the majority of Japan’s rail freight terminals. “This significantly cuts handling and transit time as well as the potential for damage to goods by eliminating the need to move goods from one type of container to another to correspond with each transport mode,” said DHL. “Additionally, these containers allow customers to ship in smaller amounts for better control over their inventory management.”
The U.S. was Japan's top trading partner until 2007, when China took over as its biggest import and export partner.
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