The trip the councillor Marta Gastón made this week to China “exceeded all expectations”, according to the Aragon Government Minister for Economy, Industry and Employment, who visited the prosperous cities of Yiwu and Hangzhou in the Zheijang region in the south of the country; where 50 million people live, and whose political leaders played host to the official Aragon delegation. Several advances were made during the stay, both in logistics, with the achievement of a stop planned for the long Silk train in Zaragoza, as well as aspects related to the internationalisation of Aragonese companies, with the opening of relations with some leading Chinese multinationals of the 21st century electronic commerce and global distribution economy.
“We came with the idea of strengthening the ties between the two regions to respond to the growing interest of this Chinese region in some of our strengths, such as logistics excellence; however, the result was much better than expected, because both institutions established a type of relationship that will allow us to benefit at the highest level,” said the councillor on her return. The directors of the Timex company which manages the largest freight train in the world linking the city of Yiwu with Madrid over more than 13,000km, have publicly announced that the train will stop in Zaragoza. This will help unite both cities commercially and also its companies, by directly placing the products from the Community of Aragon in the largest wholesale market in the world, Yiwu; this distributes to 216 countries, and is also next to the largest port in the world (Ningbo). “Even before reaching China, the Aragonese products on this train will pass through a minimum of eight countries”, Gastón recalled, announcing that “we are going to start working with companies so they can compete in this new context; as this news brings a real opportunity.”
Predictably, there will also be new opportunities for the Aragon logistics platforms under its umbrella organisation (APL), both for the train itself and for the eventual economic revitalisation in the region as a whole. “The two key aspects of the Aragonese economy we are working on for the future: logistics and internationalisation” were the main features of the trip, where the councillor was accompanied by the Aragon logistics platforms manager, Francisco de la Fuente, and the director of the public company, Aragón Exterior (Arex), Javier Andrés.
The work to create the institutional bonds, between Yiwu and Aragón especially, started two years ago via the Foundation for exchange between Yiwu and Spain promoted by the Chinese authorities. Their representatives had made 6 official visits to Aragon, including the meeting held on June 7 between the Aragon President, Javier Lambán, and the Chinese Ambassador in Spain, Lyu Fan. It is these ties that have made it possible to progress economically in a region that has become a world reference for development, after positioning itself in first place in the world as an electronic commerce platform and wholesale distributor.
During the trip, both parties recognised the areas in common between the regions, such as the economic structure, commitment to logistics, connectivity, the level of income and development in general. All this has led to something beyond the merely diplomatic as “they have only just begun to reap the rewards”.
Thus, the councillor has returned from her stay with an interest declared by the Chinese giant, Cosco, a shipping and logistics supplier company, in the Logistics Platform (Plaza) where today it manages its intermodal terminal, after the purchase of Noatum. The arrival of the Chinese train will result in the revitalisation and creation of new services and, predictably, in investment in Plaza. In addition to this, the trip “was useful for sowing seeds in some of the largest Chinese multinationals linked to global logistics, such as Huawei, with the country authorities showing their commitment to opening some other doors. In addition, the Zeijang regional authorities expressly agreed to open the doors of the global company, Alibaba, which continues to expand its business throughout the world and which has its headquarters in the capital. This would have been very difficult to achieve without this visit,” said Gastón.
In addition, APL received the support of the Yiwu Government, which has shown its commitment by acting as a consultant in the design of new dynamic strategies. “We think this is an excellent partner to continue with the logistical re-launch, which they themselves have told us they admire. The global strategy linking infrastructure, training, research and connectivity is the path that the management of this global logistics reference also want to follow, which assures us we are going in the right direction,” said the councillor.
As a result, Gastón considers herself “very satisfied with our visit, for all we have achieved and for everything that is very likely to come: wealth creation, business activity and employment through landing new projects, investment and great opportunities.”