Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) strengthening China's global logistics leadershipFirst announced in 2013 as China's global connectivity strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has already invested a significant amount in transportation and logistics infrastructure worldwide. This massive project has not only propelled China to become a global logistics leader but also a provider of logistics infrastructure and technology to others. Enhanced logistics performance can lower logistics costs for the BRI countries and enable them to access international procurement networks. This is particularly beneficial for low-income countries.
BRI has ushered in a new era of trade, where China's imports and exports with countries participating in the BRI project have grown around 1.5 times since March 2015, as reflected by the Belt and Road Trade Index. Three Chinese logistics giants, namely Xiamen Xiangyu Co., Ltd., HNA Technology Group, and COSCO Shipping Holdings Co., Ltd., ranked in the Forbes list of the top 10 global transportation companies. In addition, China State Railway Cor., Ltd., COSCO Shipping Holdings Co., Ltd., and S.F. Express Group, were included in the list of top 10 global freight forwarders in 2021.
Next-generation logistics headed toward smart logisticsWith digitalization and the development of technologies, such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, China's logistics industry has been transferred from labor-intensive to autonomous and upgraded from traditional mode to smart logistics in many areas. As of 2020, the market size of China’s smart logistics industry grew to 54.4 billion yuan. Another 52 billion yuan of funding was added to the smart logistics sector a year later, of which automated or unmanned driving technology received the highest investment amount of 25.6 billion yuan.
Smart Logistics mainly operates on three pillars: third-party (3PL) logistics, freight forwarding, and heavy transport. It transforms the way the logistics industry operates by improving efficiency and reducing inventory. Amid the rising trend of online shopping, smart logistics helps the courier sector deliver parcels faster while reducing costs and improving safety and security. Known as the market "intelligent logistics brain", Alibaba's Cainiao logistics services earned over 46 billion yuan in income in the fiscal year 2022.