JINAN, May 5 (Xinhua) -- As a passenger ro-ro ship sailed into the Weihai Port in east China's Shandong Province, 15 container trucks loaded with cargo drove out of the cabin. Within three hours, the goods they contained were ready to be distributed across China.
Via the route, which Shandong has been actively developing since 2008, the distance between the province and the Republic of Korea (ROK) has been shortened to no more than 200 nautical miles.
The existing nine passenger and cargo lines connecting Shandong's Qingdao, Yantai, Weihai and Rizhao with the ROK account for over half of China's total routes to the ROK. Over 50 ship routes operate on the "maritime highway" every week.
With its unique advantages in costs and efficiency, the "highway" has been busy since its launch.
In 2017, it took over 23 hours of travel and clearance procedures for imports to enter China through Weihai's Rongcheng port, and 1.27 hours for exports. However, the travel periods have been slashed to 12.25 hours and 0.94 hours, respectively, in 2021.
Korean trailers, after being pulled into port supervision work sites by Chinese tractors, have since last year been able to travel across China without changing tractors after customs clearance, thanks to upgraded management.
"Our company's business increased by 45 percent last year, thanks to the new customs management mode. With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement between China and the ROK coming into effect this year, we expect more contracts," said Xu Guangyao, manager of the logistics department of the Sinotrans Central China Company.
On Feb. 1, China adopted the tariff rate it had pledged under the RCEP agreement for selected imports from the ROK.
Official figures show that trade between Shandong and the ROK in 2021 reached 269.55 billion yuan (40.69 billion U.S. dollars), up 29.7 percent over the previous year.
"With the implementation of the RCEP and ensuing tariff reductions and trade facilitation, Shandong's trade with the ROK is expected to keep growing," said Zhao Yang, director of the Department of General Operation of Qingdao Customs.