Over the years, express companies have been plagued by difficulties in passing through the centre of the city. This is mainly caused by the fact that the express industry is newly emerging and Chinese traffic rules are lagging far behind its surging development. According to the existent regulations of the transportation administration departments, express companies must use freight carriers to transport express items. That being said, the passage of freight carriers in the downtown area is restricted in many ways. In particular, freight carriers are not allowed to transport goods through city centers in day time hours. To take Beijing as an example, although competent departments have provided licenses for some freight carriers to enter the downtown area, there remain many restrictions in terms of time frame and possible routes. In addition to this, the number of licenses granted is far from meeting the demands of urban logistics and distribution.
Express items typically are of a small size, a light weight and are delivered on a tight schedule. Typically, foreign countries transport express items using minibuses which enjoy many advantages, including low pollution, flexibility, high safety, low road occupation and small impact on urban transportation and environment. However, in China, most express enterprises are forced to use passenger vehicles to transport express items within the city due to regulatory restrictions. More often than not, they are subject to punishments imposed by government departments, with fines standing at thousands and even tens of thousands of yuan. The seizure of vehicles and expensive fines have greatly increased the operating costs of express enterprises, led to the delay of express delivery and severely impacted the work and life of users. As we know, domestically-funded express enterprises face a similar predicament.
We are delighted to note that a couple of months ago, the State Council released a Notification of Issuing Adjustment and Development Plan of Logistics Industry to help it in escaping this dilemma. The plan clearly provides for this problem, stating “the country will step up policy support and work to address issues hampering the development of the current logistics industry, such as land, tax, fees, financing and transportation management. … The country will speed up the development of logistics and distribution projects in urban areas, encourage specialized transport enterprises to carry out urban distribution and improve the level of urban transportation, as China works to address issues affecting urban express delivery, the passing through, stopping and terminal operation of freight carriers in the downtown area and improve the network of urban logistics.”
The express industry, which is part and parcel of the modern service industry, has played an important role in promoting the development of Beijing’s foreign trade, urban distribution, international freight, high-and-new tech industry, automobile industry and “online shopping”. At the same time, the express industry has significantly reduced trade and logistics costs and enhanced the efficiency of economic operations. In this sense, supporting the development of the express industry is in line with the principle of Beijing doing more to develop a modern service industry and build itself as a service center, and goes a long way towards the commitment to improve the investment environment and elevate Beijing’s profile as an international metropolitan city.