DHL was a trailblazer in the construction of China’s New Silk Road, according to Forbes contributor and reporter Wade Shepard, who writes about China’s increasingly global economic perspective.
The New Silk Road is the product of China’s “One Belt, One Road” trade policy, which was announced by President Xi Jinping in 2013. It’s a campaign to introduce a new network of trade and transportation routes between China and Europe, based partly on the historical Silk Road.
According to Shepard, DHL adopted the New Silk Road long before Xi Jinping, getting into trans-Eurasian trade development as far back as 2008. DHL identified growing customer demand for a cargo option between Europe and Asia that was faster than sea freight but cheaper than air (in other words, rail and road options).
Consequently, DHL trialled shipments across the 9,000 kilometre distance from one end of Eurasia to the other. The company's innovations were followed by the official Chinese government scheme, which helped to stabilise their operations and bolster growth—but, says Shepard, it was the private sector that made the first important push.
DHL currently owns a 20% market share of all trans-Eurasian rail cargo. Over 39 lines now connect 15 major cities in Europe with 20 in China.