Courier service companies on the Chinese mainland said they are speeding up their global expansion in order to seize opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative.
Shanghai-based YTO Express Group acquired a controlling stake in Hong Kong-listed On Time Logistics Holdings this month, it said, to tap into the Hong Kong firm's extensive international network.
Chairman and President of YTO Yu Weijiao told a recent news conference in Hong Kong that the courier service company partnered with On Time for its established global footprint. On Time has branch offices in 17 countries and has 52 operating centers across the globe.
"YTO is determined to seize the historical opportunity of the Belt and Road Initiative and is committed to becoming a flagship Chinese courier service provider in the global market," Yu said.
Discussing the delivery sector's trends and outlook, Hao Winning, vice-president of YTO, said major mainland courier service providers had all entered the capital market and the next step was global expansion, which matched the country's Belt and Road Initiative.
YTO completed a backdoor listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange last October, becoming the first listed domestic parcel delivery company. Shentong Express then announced a 16.9 billion yuan (.45 billion) reverse takeover in December last year.
The mainland's biggest private courier company SF Holding went public earlier this year on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Looking ahead, YTO's Hao said mainland products had successfully become global and it was time for services to reach out.
Mainland imports and exports stood at 24.3 trillion yuan (.7 trillion) last year, accounting for 11.2 percent of global trade. Yet the cross-border delivery business had been dominated by major foreign courier companies such as UPS, DHL and FedEx.
Ray Li, vice-president of SF's international business unit, told China Daily in a previous interview that their international business only accounted for about 2 percent of revenue. He believed Belt and Road countries and regions, especially those in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Eastern Europe, would become a core driving force in future.
SF has actively partnered with overseas carriers to set up a network covering about 200 countries and regions. It has also established 10 international branches. The first was founded in Singapore in 2010 and its latest offices were established in Vietnam and Thailand.
Backed by mainland e-commerce giant Alibaba, a major shareholder of YTO, Yu struck a confident note saying he believed Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma's strategic Belt and Road expansion would greatly benefit their business.
Yunfeng Capital, a fund backed by Ma, owns a 20 percent stake in YTO Express through a strategic investment deal in 2015. Yu expressed the ambition to be among the top five international courier service providers within five years.