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Yiwu Goods Shipping Normal but Hit by Virus Outbreak

The 500th China-Europe freight train “Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe” departed from Yiwu, east China’s Zhejiang Province, bound for Madrid, Spain on May 1, 2022. Photo: VCG

Traders in Yiwu, the small commodity capital of the world in east China’s Zhejiang province, are doing what they can to ensure an uninterrupted flow of goods, after the city reported dozens of cases of COVID-19 this week. China-Europe freight rail service remained normal.

Yiwu on Wednesday announced stronger epidemic control measures. The city advised citizens not to leave unless necessary and ordered all businesses in closed buildings to suspend work on Thursday.

Financial newspaper yicai reported that some businesses were at a standstill with orders withdrawn and shipments blocked.

The outbreak occurred during the critical Christmas shipping season, when traders are busy shipping completed orders that shoppers have placed for the Christmas holiday this year.

Zhao Libi of the Yiwu Christmas Products Association told the Global Times on Thursday that since Wednesday, traffic has stopped, including transporting goods from factories to seaports.

Merchants of Christmas goods are watching how things go, but it’s currently unclear how much business will be affected, Zhao said.

However, traders, who are experienced in dealing with the virus and its disruptions, are coping with it skillfully.

A senior Yiwu-based China-Europe freight train industry official told the Global Times on Thursday that his company had already sorted, loaded and stored enough goods at the city’s rail depot to sustain a month’s operation.

“We just did this in case…we were told to work from home,” the insider said. “From the rail depot, access to China-Europe freight train services will not be affected at all.”

The insider said that the epidemic control policy has been strengthened to control the virus. Negative nucleic acid test results in the past 24 hours, instead of the previous 72 hours, are now required to enter or exit the highway, but overall flows of people and goods are normal.

An official overseeing the operation of Zhejiang’s China-Europe freight freight services told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that for now, freight services are operating as usual.

“In the four railway depots in Zhejiang, there is a lot of freight and the trains are running normally. At the moment, I don’t see any impact from the epidemic,” said the official, who spent the afternoon at inspect the situation.

“Going forward, it depends on how long the heightened control measures last,” the official said.

The official revealed that 1,345 trains had departed from the four railway depots in Zhejiang, including Yiwu, by the end of July.

On Wednesday, Zhejiang Governor Wang Hao urged during his Yiwu inspection tour to coordinate COVID-19 prevention and control work with economic development, ensuring smooth supply chain and movement of people and goods to reduce the negative impact of the epidemic on the minimum.

As of June 30, a total of 808 freight trains had left Yiwu for Europe, a year-on-year increase of 9.5 percent, and monthly train services to Europe had reached 133 this year, according to .

The city managed to stay unscathed when epidemics hit Shanghai in April and May. In the first half, the city’s foreign trade jumped 32.8 percent year on year to 222.25 billion yuan ($32.9 billion).