Caixin
Nov 05, 2021 08:13 PM
BUSINESS

Reporter's Notebook: The Tight Controls to Ensure CIIE Is Covid-Free

A freighter carrying exhibits for the 2021 China International Import Expo docked at the Yangshan port in Shanghai on October. Photo: VCG
A freighter carrying exhibits for the 2021 China International Import Expo docked at the Yangshan port in Shanghai on October. Photo: VCG

Chinese logistics and freight companies have been taking special measures to ensure that the imported exhibits for this year’s China International Import Expo (CIIE) don’t also bring Covid-19 into the country, amid a surge in cases.

The annual trade fair, which kicked off its fourth event on Friday and is hosted by the Ministry of Commerce and the Shanghai government, serves as a platform for global trade opportunities and demonstrates China’s commitment to opening up, according to the CIIE.

The event’s two main logistics service providers, shipping giant China Cosco Shipping Co. Ltd. and China Eastern Airlines Group air freight subsidiary Eastern Air Logistics Co. Ltd. (601156.SH), have been enforcing stringent pandemic prevention controls as well as streamlined import clearances in accordance with government regulations in the lead up to the six-day event.

A notice mandating an array of Covid-19 prevention measures for the event was issued by the Shanghai government on Oct. 20 (link in Chinese), including a 14-day quarantine plus seven-day self-monitoring period for overseas participants, multiple rounds of nucleic acid tests, centralized disinfection protocols as well as a “closed-loop mechanism” for cold-chain exhibits.

Cosco Shipping, which is mainly responsible for the packaging, transportation, storage and customs clearance for imports and exports before and after the event, said it has set up a special team to oversee logistics routes across five continents.

Zhou Yiwen, head of the special unit, said team members have been keeping close contact with carriers to hasten transport and processing procedures.

“The dispatcher will collect ship navigation information seven days in advance to inform the captain of the various requirements for entering Shanghai. At the same time, the back office will file a declaration form to the port office and arrange preliminary plans for cargo offloading. Staff in the field will arrange import procedures as soon as the ship berths at the port,” Zhou said.

Online pre-inspection declarations have also been urged by the Yangshan Immigration Inspection Station in Hangzhou’s Yangshan Port to allow carriers to complete the relevant procedures en route and to minimize contact between port staff and shipping crew.

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As for exhibits arriving in the country by air, Eastern Air Logistics has required a fixed team of frontline cargo staff to operate in closed-off areas for work and rest according to disease control measures mandated by the Civil Aviation Administration. All imported goods must undergo thorough disinfection.

Although the extra steps have posed challenges to staffing and the efficiency of imports processing, the freight company said it has managed to ease the pressure by setting up a special channel and assigning specific personnel to receive and track the CIIE cargo, as well as designated cold-chain warehousing services.

“The strict pandemic prevention requirements have indeed increased the difficulty of transporting CIIE exhibits, but the company has formulated a plan in advance to ensure the safe and fast delivery of exhibits,” an Eastern Air Logistics spokesperson said.

As of Wednesday, Cosco Shipping has handled 50 batches of imported exhibits from 15 countries as well as more than 250 batches of domestic deliveries, while China Eastern has handled 153 imported items totaling 33.5 tons.

Contact translator Kelsey Cheng (kelseycheng@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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