HANGZHOU - An information-sharing interface for port shipping in China, Japan and South Korea was introduced on Tuesday in Hangzhou, the capital city of East China's Zhejiang province.
The Northeast Asia Logistics Information Service Network (NEAL-NET), which is being backed by the governments of the three countries, will enable dynamic exchange and information sharing for container vessels in the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port in China, the Tokyo-Yokohama port in Japan and the Busan port in South Korea.
Starting next year, the network will cover more aspects of logistics activities in the region, according to the NEAL-NET plan.
In China, the interface is based on data from Logistics Information Net (LOGINK) in Hangzhou.
The new interface could save 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) for shippers in China every year, officials said.
"The NEAL-NET will provide safe and cost-effective logistics information sharing, which will powerfully boost economic cooperation," said Xia Baolong, vice-governor of Zhejiang province.
Zhejiang is home to the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, one of the world's biggest ports, and some of the world's biggest online trade hubs, including Alibaba.com and Taobao.com.
The province has seen rising demand for logistics services in the Yangtze River Delta.
NEAL-NET will be a non-profit information exchange and sharing mechanism, according to Guo Jianbiao, deputy head of Zhejiang's transport department.
Some 200,000 items of shipping data are available on the China section of the interface, including real-time locations of vessels and vehicles and contact information for shipping employees.
"Logistics clients on all three sides will be able to make better plans for international supply chains, lower their cost of obtaining logistics information and reduce the difficulties of shipping management," Guo said.
In 2010, logistics spending in China was equal to 17.8 percent of GDP. In developed economies, the figure was only 9 percent on average, according to statistics provided by transport authorities in Zhejiang.
Logistics costs account for up to 40 percent of the total cost of goods shipped from China, while in the United States, the figure is only 7.8 percent, despite higher labor costs.
Guo said that LOGINK and NEAL-NET will benefit development in the Yangtze River Delta by reducing logistics costs.
"If all the logistics users and suppliers get involved in the information-sharing platform, it is estimated that 2.1 billion yuan of shipping costs can be saved in Zhejiang province alone, and 30 billion yuan can be saved in the entire nation every year," Guo said.
As the service is free to use, an evaluation of its effectiveness and quality cannot be measured by volume. An appropriate method of assessment must be developed, Guo said.
"The LOGINK platform has helped us reduce costs by 10 percent, and now we don't have to update information by fax and telephone as we did before, which was likely to be inaccurate and very often not up-to-date," said Wang Yi, deputy general manager of Hangzhou Long-Distance Transport Group Co Ltd.
About 400 billion yuan will be invested in port and shipping development in the province, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for major development projects in Zhejiang.
The spending is intended to develop the maritime economy in Zhejiang in conjunction with Shanghai's effort to become an international shipping hub.
"The shipping industries in Zhejiang province and Shanghai will play different roles and will compete and cooperate under the nation's regulations and plans," said Qi Buyun, head of the Zhejiang harbor and shipping authority.