Spanish food products will be taken to China on the silk train

The largest freight train in the world, which links the Chinese city of Yiwu and Madrid along 13,052 kilometres, offers opportunities to export Spanish food. However, some experts have warned that the silk train, which is a year old this November, will mostly benefit Asian companies. An invasion of Chinese products?

Spain has not only supported this silk train, which runs through ancient trade routes frequented by camel caravans, but is also very attentive of the one strip, one route Chinese initiative. According to the analysis conducted by experts at the Silk Road Forum, which was held in Madrid in late October, this initiative would generate more contracts in Asia in areas such as infrastructure, transport and energy.

The economic and commercial counsellor of Spain in Shanghai, Eduardo Euba, values the new railway line Yiwu-Madrid, a project of the authorities of this city and the province of Zhejiang, because "it will give Spanish exporters an additional logistics option to access China."

The province of Zhejiajng has over 60 million inhabitants and a GDP that is higher than that of Spain, which gives samples of its dimensions

The market will determine if the railway line, which is operated by the Yiwu Timex Industrial Investments Company and passes through Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, and China becomes a success, added Euba.

Spanish food product exports to China have been developing positively in recent years. In the first nine months of 2015 they have grown 60% over the same period of 2014. "We hope that this railway will help maintain this momentum," stated Euba.

Food and beverages
The deputy director of the trade policy between Europe, Asia and Oceania, Maria Aparicio, said that many perishable food products from Spain could not be exported by sea and that the train to Yiwu shortened the shipments duration.

China has a food deficit. It has a growing population that is interested in the Mediterranean diet and they are increasingly concerned about food security. It is a great opportunity to send fresh or processed fruits and vegetables, wine, oil, meat products, and other consumer goods of high value, she added.

"We must not see the train as a threat of an invasion of Chinese products," Aparicio said.

The Spanish government, in particular the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, are negotiating with the Chinese authorities the protocols for each product to eliminate non-tariff and phytosanitary barriers so as to be able to export ham with bones, seedless grapes, plums or peaches.

Regarding livestock, she said, "we need a greater number of authorizations so the slaughterhouses can export their products there."

According to official figures, Spain exports $4,000 million Euro to China and imports more than $19,700 million Euro from them, which results in a $15,700 million deficit. The export of food and beverages would help shorten this huge gap.

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