Train linking China to Afghanistan leaves for Mazar

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HANGZHOU: The eastern Chinese city of Yiwu, home to the world’s leading small commodities market, saw its first freight train leave for Afghanistan on Monday.
It is the fifth cargo train route linking Yiwu to Europe or Asia, according to a China Daily report. Cargo train routes already in service connect Yiwu with countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Spain, Iran and Russia.
The train, hauling 100 containers of goods worth more than $4 million, will reach Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, via Kazakhs­tan and Uzbekistan. A single trip is 7,500km long and takes 15 days, half the time needed for maritime transportation. The service is expected to run on a weekly basis by the end of this year.
Mazar-i-Sharif is a key commercial centre near the border with Uzbekistan. It also serves as a logistics hub for the entire Middle East. The new route is expected to help upgrade trade cooperation between China and the region.
Trade between Yiwu and Afghanistan amounted to $20.2m in 2015, representing a year-on-year growth of 2,284.5 per cent. The import-export volume reached $18.3m during the first half of the current year, up by 4,683pc compared with the same period last year, according to the local bureau of commerce.