2020 will go down in history as the year of the coronavirus pandemic. During the year, people all around the world found themselves living in a new reality of social distancing and sanitary regulations. The changes have had a striking effect on Chinese logistics and supply chains that continue to be felt as 2021 begins.
According to Vyacheslav Gural, Regional Director of Asian Countries at AsstrA, 2020 was a challenging but dynamic year full of unprecedented obstacles. “Lockdowns, closed borders, and an economic downturn were just the tip of the iceberg that we had to face during this period. But as the Chinese proverb goes: ‘When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.’ During the pandemic, we decided not to slow down but rather to use our experience gained in the Celestial Empire over the last five years to take on these challenges and find innovative solutions."
That meant 2020 was a busy year. In the first half of the year, the AsstrA Shanghai team moved entirely online and honed their negotiating skills via Zoom, Skype, and other virtual platforms. The second half of the year was full of online conferences and exhibitions.
Last October, an AsstrA team from Shanghai participated in a LandBridge Chinese Railway Association forum on the Chinese Belt and Road initiative behind the New Silk Road. This was the fourth year in a row that AsstrA has attended this forum, with the last three as a member of the Association. More than 60 of the largest companies in the Chinese railway industry are members of the Association, which represents their interests and promotes the development of Chinese express trains and rail transport in general.
"In November we were happy to attend The EU Silk Road Summit, an annual online event. During the summit’s two days, we heard presentations from 34 European and Chinese speakers and networked with approximately 180 other participants. It was useful to learn about market trends, see competitors, and meet new partners. We also managed to formalize cooperation with one client we had been speaking with for the last four years,” shares Vladislav Martin, AsstrA Head of Rail Freight for the EU and China.
"The AsstrA office in Shanghai has come through this period of uncertainty with more confidence, strength, and experience. We have reorganized the way we communicate with customers to stay in touch despite the lockdown. Our partners have appreciated our professional approach, and our office has maintained our momentum and growth. In 2020 we received 142% more orders year-on-year resulting in 153% more turnover. Despite the past year’s challenging circumstances, we continued to build relationships with customers from China and beyond and will remain a proven partner in 2021,” says Vyacheslav Gural.