At the Russian Chinese border crossings, the supply chains have largely collapsed. With hundreds of trucks jammed, there are several scenes of turmoil as drivers jostle for a front seat at the border checkpoints. There are also massive obstructions and delays in the rail transport of goods from China to Europe. A new outbreak of the coronavirus in China has now exacerbated the problems.
The new outbreaks of the C-19 virus in China and ongoing high infection rates in Russia have led to massive congestion of goods at both countries' border checkpoints. "Russian truck drivers entering China through the Manchurian border crossing must present a certificate of a negative PCR test, which must not be older than 7 days, demanded by the Chinese authorities,” states the Russian Ministry of Transport in an official notice.
Excessive Red Tape
Additionally, tests are also conducted on the Chinese side. According to Moscow’s Federal Customs Service (FCS), Chinese officials are demanding the following scheme: Once a Russian truck arrives at any Chinese checkpoint, the driver has to unhitch the trailer and leave it standing on Chinese territory, immediately returning to the Russian side of the border. With the driver absent, the trailer is loaded with goods bound to Russia or the EU. After local Chinese staff have completed the loading, the driver is advised to return with his traction engine and proceed to the Chinese checkpoint. Once registered again, he is allowed to reenter Chinese territory and pick up the trailer loaded with Chinese exports for driving it back to the Russian side of the fence. “Such a bureaucratic arrangement increases the time needed to register each entry and exit of a vehicle and its driver and prolongs the loading procedure as well,” regrets the FCS.
As an example of the consequences of this procedure, Russian media describe the situation at the Sabaikalsk border crossing early morning 08:00h on August 8, where 258 trucks were lined up and waiting for hours, eager to be admitted passing the checkpoint to bring goods to China or to pick them up there.
No End of Dilemma in Sight
According to local media, the clearance capacities of most border crossings are too limited due to constant understaffing. However, aggravating the situation is the huge amount of cargo that has piled up at warehouses located in cities close to the checkpoints. Due to this, it now takes 2 to 3 weeks to consolidate shipments and get them on the road again. This enormously prolongs the supply chains with no end of the bottleneck in sight.
To prevent the flow of goods from coming to a complete standstill, the Chinese customs authorities have unofficially now skipped the set quota of 100 truck border crossings per individual checkpoint and tacitly introduced and accepted higher numbers.
Discussions are currently taking place between officials from both sides aimed at upping this quota. Russian customs have also delegated officials from other regions to the busiest checkpoints at the Chinese border in order to relieve local forces and speed up the clearance of trucks as well as transcontinental freight trains.
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