|Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. Thanks to its extensive domestic and international air links, Chengdu has become an important investment destination for major logistics companies. (Photo / Xinhua)|
Impressive infrastructure attracts leading international companies
"It's easier to reach heaven than to take the roads in Sichuan" is a line from a famous Chinese poem written 1,000 years ago that described the transportation situation in inner China then.
How times have changed.
Today, Chengdu - capital city of Sichuan province - is an important investment destination for many world-leading logistics companies that need to access western China.
The shipping and oil conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk Group, consultancy firm Accenture Plc, delivery service provider DHL Express, e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc and cement company Lafarge SA have all established their logistics operations in Chengdu.
According to the Chengdu municipal government, by 2015 the city will have the fourth-largest airport in China, the biggest dry port in the western area linked to a railway system, a well-developed cargo distribution and handling center, and an important transshipment center for Europe and Central Asia.
A combination of factors such as reduced pollution, investor-friendly policies, robust financing facilities and modern amenities are attracting many multinational companies to the city.
In July, DHL said it will look to apply its "urban freight centers" concept in Chengdu with a number of freight consolidation centers around the city, to create a more efficient setup with fewer larger vehicles venturing into city centers.
Jorg Hanser, DHL director of solutions and innovation, said the partnership with Chengdu is an opportunity to "prove our global capabilities" in the field of city logistics.
He said gaining a good understanding of the situation in Chengdu would mean developing a tailor-made plan for the city itself that could also be seen as a model for other Chinese megacities.
"The eventual implementation of this solution could be a key success factor for the region and will help make the best use of its enormous business potential," Hanser said.
Copenhagen-based Maersk is a well-known player in the global logistics trade, with extensive links to major ports and harbors. However, most of its daily operations are now coordinated from the company's global logistics hub in Chengdu.
It was only in 2009 that the company stepped up its logistics activities by setting up the global service center and logistics-processing branch at the Tianfu Software Park in Chengdu, which has become the global hub for Maersk.
Damco, the logistics arm of Maersk, employs about 1,000 people in its new customer service center that occupies the building's bottom three floors. The Maersk Global Service Center, which provides the back-office functions for its group companies, is in the same building on the top two floors.
Among Maersk's five global service centers, which include three in India and one in Manila, the Chengdu center is the fastest-growing, providing customer-service documentation, online booking, online customer service with financing and accounting processes.
"Chengdu GSC has developed very quickly over the past two years. We will continue to grow the center, although it now already covers support for almost 40 percent of our exports globally," said Shao Wei, senior director of the Maersk GSC in Chengdu.
"We believe the Chengdu center will provide our global customers with better services and make our business more competitive," Shao added.
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