Shoppers in Yiwu will be able to buy Spanish products such as olive oil at affordable prices next week after a cargo train linking the city to Madrid completed its debut round trip.
The Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe cargo line runs from the city in Zhejiang province through the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to Europe.
Yiwu is the world's biggest market for small commodities, and the line will boost trade between the city and its European counterpart.
"Madrid is Europe's largest market for small commodities," said Cao Rongqing, a professor of economics at Zhejiang Normal University.
"The cargo line linking these two cities will help Yiwu to become a world distribution centre for small commodities."
The train set off from China to Spain on Nov 18 carrying 82 containers loaded with stationery, craft items and products for the Christmas market, and arrived in Madrid 21 days later.
It returned to Yiwu on Sunday after a 24-day journey from Spain carrying 64 containers packed with wine, olive oil and other Spanish products.
The goods are due to go on sale in Yiwu's markets on Monday after customs procedures are completed.
Cao said that, since trains are faster than ships, the distribution of small commodities from Yiwu will be speeded up.
"The cargo line provides a brand new logistics channel for buyers and sellers," he added.
Zhejiang Mundiver Import and Export Co had 12 containers loaded with wine, olive oil, soda and other products on the trip from Madrid.
General Manager Zhou Xuming said: "Shipping goods from Spain to Yiwu takes more than two months, and air transportation is very expensive. A train line meets our needs."
He said goods transported via the cargo line will cost 30 to 40 per cent less in the shops than items imported by air.
"I am considering importing more products on the next train because the demand here is huge," he added.
Wang Chun, a 32-year-old Yiwu resident, said she is looking forward to being able to buy the European products.
"My aunt emigrated to Italy years ago and introduced us to olive oil," she said. "It would save a lot of time, money and effort if we can get original Spanish olive oil here in Yiwu at a reasonable price."
Officials in Yiwu have ambitious plans for the cargo line. Wu Bocheng, general manager of State-run Zhejiang China Commodities City Group, said he hopes it will be used to import cars and agricultural products, including meat.
"We will gather commodities from around the globe and redistribute them to the rest of the world," he said.