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  • 11 Mar 2021
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  • Belt & Road Initiatives
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Belt & Road Initiatives, China - Europe Rail and CALISTA

Table of Contents:

What is the Belt and Road Initiative?

China-Europe Rail Benefits

2021 China-Europe Rail Rates

Belt & Road Initiatives, China - Europe Rail and CALISTA

China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to connect a vast swath of the globe through overland and maritime routes. The BRI gives countries along the route unprecedented access to improved infrastructure and new business opportunities. A powerful digital platform like CALISTA can help businesses make the most out of BRI opportunities by transforming supply chain management. Read on to learn more about Belt & Road Initiatives, China - Europe Rail and CALISTA.


What is the Belt and Road Initiative?


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure strategy launched in 2013 with a target completion date of 2049. The BRI consists of multiple investment and development programs that stretch from East Asia to Europe, covering almost 70 countries or two thirds of the world’s population.


Chinese President Xi Jinping originally announced BRI as the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” with belt referring to overland routes through Central Asia and road referring to sea routes through Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East and Africa. He plans to build fifty special economic zones and a massive network of highways, railways, energy pipelines, border crossings and maritime ports going westward and southward.




According to the Chinese government, the BRI aims to improve regional connectivity and ease trade route bottlenecks. The BRI is also a way for China to create new investment opportunities and export markets, boost domestic consumption, and shape international trade. On the domestic front, the BRI will improve global economic links to its less developed western regions and support the country’s need for long-term energy sources.


Some observers see the BRI as a China-centric global trade network and the inevitable expansion of the country’s political, military and economic influence. One of the top critics of the BRI is the United States, which has formed the Blue Dot Network with Japan and Australia as a counter initiative. In 2019, the EU and Japan also signed a counter initiative that will link Europe and Asia to coordinate transport, infrastructure and digital projects.




Over 130 countries have endorsed the BRI. Russia and China have 150 common projects, and Singapore is one of the largest investors in the project. China has partnered with 18 Arab countries, 14 Eastern European countries, many countries in Africa and Asia, as well as Greece, Croatia, and Italy. Countries located along the belt and road are expected to benefit from the initiative. The BRI is expected to remove trade barriers, create new business opportunities, improve trade processes, improve infrastructure, facilitate global trade, facilitate cultural and academic exchange, and boost financial cooperation.


China-Europe Rail Benefits


Part of the Belt and Road Initiative is rail linkages and terminals from China to Europe. The rail aims to reduce transit times and lower costs for global shippers, with ongoing plans to increase reefer (refrigerated container) capacity to handle perishable goods more efficiently and reduce dependence on expensive air freight.


The China-Europe rail has two main routes, central China to Europe and northern China to Europe, with key terminals in Germany and Poland. The majority of cargo transported by rail are retail, fashion and consumer goods, and automotive, industrial manufacturing and technology shipments. Germany is the main market and destination point, with other deliveries going to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and neighboring countries.




Because it is faster than sea and cheaper than air, rail freight is a very attractive option for businesses moving cargo to and from China to Europe. The government-operated railway enables transport of goods from northern and central China directly to European countries. Depending on routes, rail transit time takes from 15 to 18 days from China to Europe, about 50% shorter than sea freight. Rail transport is also more environment-friendly than air freight, with significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions.


Reduced transit times mean faster deliveries and a better customer experience. Faster deliveries allow businesses to save on interest payments on high-value goods, and react more quickly to supply chain disruptions. It also means less stock on hand and shorter rotations, freeing up capital that can be used to grow your business.


Many businesses still prefer low-cost ocean transport for China shipments. While transporting a shipment by rail freight (depending on routes and volume) costs about twice as much as sea freight, the China-Europe rail is an ideal option when speed is important. For example, when moving perishables and low-margin products that would be too expensive for air transport.


The China-Europe rail handles full container loads (FCL) as well as less than container loads (LCL), making it ideal for ecommerce businesses. Shippers can work with logistics providers to consolidate multiple shipments, especially smaller low-value parcels, into full containers for cost-effective transport.


2021 China-Europe Rail Rates


China-Europe rail rates have more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2020 and into the new year as tight capacity and equipment shortages in air and ocean freight force shippers to overland modes of transport. January 2021 rates for carrier-owned containers passed $10,000 per FEU, over twice the levels in October 2020.


Guaranteed space and equipment are still in very short supply despite China Railway Express deploying a record number of trains in 2020. DHL Global Forwarding has warned that rail rates are expected to continue increasing until mid-February. Rail rates per kilogram are still well below air freight, however.


Belt & Road Initiatives, China - Europe Rail and CALISTA

Belt & Road Initiatives, China - Europe Rail and CALISTA

CALISTA is a supply chain platform that brings together key physical, logistics, compliance, and financial activities to streamline cross-border trade. CALISTA improves community interaction for booking and managing freight, and it serves as a one-stop shop to support intermodal logistics beyond ocean freight booking. CALISTA provides multimodal freight booking and other logistics services so shippers can move freight cost-effectively regardless of supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.




CALISTA connects your business to a growing, global network of industry partners, from port operators to logistics service providers, so you can access services and technology and explore new transport routes. Having more options at your fingertips can boost productivity, improve inventories, reduce transit times and costs.


Greater visibility helps your business react quickly to unknown and unforeseen circumstances. You can easily compare rates and book freight on other modes of transport, including overland (truckers), to move your shipments faster and at a lower cost.


book and track


CALISTA book and track allows shippers to submit booking requests to carriers electronically instead of manually (phone, email and fax). Shippers can create, amend, cancel and download freight bookings from the same platform. Submit shipping Instructions, preview and print Bills of Lading, and monitor the status of your shipments.


freight exchange


Wherever you are in the world, CALISTA freight exchange helps you market, manage, and buy/sell logistics services to a global LSP network. Use CALISTA freight exchange to buy services, customize rates for your customers, have visibility on the sales cycle, and grow your business by selling to a global network of LSPs in China, ASEAN and beyond.


Other CALISTA services:

  • Shipping Instruction
  • Haulage Service
  • P!ng Track and Trace
  • Electronic Verified Gross Mass (eVGM)
  • Finance Services (cross-border payments, invoice billing, trade financing, insurance)
  • Guide to transporting dangerous goods


To learn more, check out  or contact us today!




Related Pages:

CALISTA Supply Chain Orchestration Platform

How Does a Supply Chain Platform Work?

Optimising Supply Chain Orchestration

How Supply Chain Orchestration Facilitates Vaccine Distribution


Singapore is one of the world’s most vibrant trade and ecommerce markets. Liberal trading policies ensure speedy cargo clearance for legitimate shipments while maintaining a safe and secure environment for trade participants. Businesses wanting to explore opportunities in the Singapore market must understand the regulatory requirements to fulfill import and export declarations in Singapore.


All imports must be declared to Singapore Customs. As an importer, the first thing to determine is whether you need to pay duties and/or taxes. In general, Goods and Services Tax (GST) is paid on non-dutiable goods, while GST and duty are paid on imported goods intended to be consumed in Singapore. For more details on duties and GST, visit the Singapore Customs website at


If you want to be an importer self-filer, the following steps should help you get started:


1. Register for a UEN and activate your Customs Account


Register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to get the Unique Entity Number (UEN) , then activate your Customs Account at this link.


2. Check if the goods are controlled


Controlled goods are those subject to restrictions by Competent Authorities (CA) in Singapore. Find the HS code or CA product code to learn what licenses are required. You may also apply for an official classification ruling with Customs.


3. Apply for GIRO


Apply for an Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG) with Singapore Customs to pay for duties, taxes and other fees directly from your bank account. Your declaring agent may also use your IBG for the payment of Customs fees. You can get the IBG application form from the Singapore Customs website. If you are applying for a TradeNet® account, you will need to apply an IBG with CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd.


4. Provide security


You need to provide security for dutiable goods, temporary imports, and for operating licensed warehouses and similar facilities. The security can be a Banker’s Guarantee, Finance Company Guarantee, or Insurance Bond.



5. Apply for a Customs Import Permit


As an importer, you are required to apply for a Customs import permit prior to the importation of the cargo to account for the import and tax payable.

All permit applications must be submitted via a TradeNet® Front-End software by an approved software vendor or through the Singapore Customs TradeNet® Front-End Application.  


6. Prepare cargo clearance documents


For all shipments, you need to present the Customs approved permit and supporting documents (invoice, packing list, bill of lading/air waybill) to checkpoint officers to endorse.


7. Retain your Trade Documents


You are required to retain your Customs permits and relevant supporting documents such as commercial invoice, packing list, house Air Waybill for a minimum period of 5 years from the permit approval date. These documents can be stored as hard or soft copies as are required to be produced to Singapore Customs for audit purposes upon request.




















Global eTrade Services (GeTS) is a Singapore Customs accredited TradeNet® Front-End software provider. Since 2006, through TradeWeb, we have been offering value-added and innovative solutions.

TradeWeb Live! is a web-based system that are used by certified declarants of companies registered in Singapore to apply for Customs permits. It is accessible anytime, anywhere. With it, the entire application process is completed within minutes.

For a more seamless process, TradeWeb Live! can also be easily integrated with CALISTA and your company’s in-house systems as well as third party systems such as Warehouse Management System and Freight Management System.

CALISTA has a full range of services ranging from logistics, compliance to finance, providing businesses the convenience and flexibility to manage trade processes, documents and data involved all in a single digital platform.

The CALISTA regulatory filing service can assist in automating the Customs trade declarations and processes that adhere to relevant business rules that is compliant to the Customs submission requirements.

In addition, you can also have the option to outsource your trade declarations. The GeTS Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service frees up your time to focus on what matters while leaving regulatory compliance documentation to GeTS. With this, you can enjoy a reduction in running costs, receive your approved permits at a faster turnaround time and be assured of complying to Singapore Customs’ rules and regulations.

For overseas sellers venturing into the Singapore market, appointing an Importer of Record (IOR) is a convenient and cost-effective way to ensure that your goods are properly documented and declared. The IOR acts on your behalf to import the goods, liaise with the authorities and make relevant duties and tax payments.

In the event when the HS Codes of the cargo are not provided, you may leverage on the A.I powered CALISTA intelligent advisory to recommend the most suitable HS Codes to be used. This advisory service has high accuracy through machine learning of vast past data.

With regards to the retention of your trade documents, GeTS’ Brokerage Control Tower Service (BCTS) can assist you with your trade documents records keeping. It has a Trade Document pouch feature that retains the Customs permits and supporting documents such as invoices, packing lists and house airway bills/bill of lading for ease of retrieval. Its case management feature helps keep you on track on what to do. You can also self-configure reminders for tasks such as monitoring of license expiry date and permit conditions, which you will need to adhere to avoid Customs compound.


To know more about GeTS services or to schedule a demo, you can call 6887 7333 or email [email protected].

CALISTA® is a registered trademark of GeTS. The materials provided by GeTS herein are solely for marketing purposes only. The information contained in the materials is proprietary to GeTS or subject to intellectual property rights owned by GeTS. Any use, disclosure, transmission, reproduction of the said materials in any manner without prior written consent of GeTS is strictly prohibited.