The five-year plan was rolled out by the General Office of the State Council on 15 December and will see China prioritise the development of cold chain logistics, promote the use of green packaging materials, and further reduce energy use and emissions in the logistics sector.

Other key measures in China’s five year plan include improving modern logistics systems by taking steps such as accelerating the digital and smart upgrading of the transportation, storage, delivery and packaging sectors and strengthening weak links in rural areas and cold chain logistics.

According to the government website the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China, the nation now has the world’s largest logistics sector, leading all countries in terms of cargo transport volume and number of shipments. The total revenue of the sector reached 12 trillion yuan (US$1.74 trillion) in 2021.

Zhang Jiangbo, deputy head of the department of trade at the NDRC, told a news conference on 29 December that China’s logistics sector is facing challenges, including disparities between eastern and western regions and urban and rural areas in terms of infrastructure and services offered, as well as a relatively small number of logistics businesses that compete globally.

He said the latest five-year-plan has adopted a host of measures to boost the competitive edge of logistics services providers, including efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of services and refine the sector’s business environment.

China is the largest apparel supplier in the world. But in recent weeks its logistics sector has been crippled by another Covid outbreak across the country.

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China’s citizens are no longer in lockdown after years of adhering to President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy which – while it curbed the outbreak – served to lower immunity against the infection.

The increase in infection rates means industry across China is facing disruption such as staffing shortages, which is leaving businesses vulnerable to closures, while sickness in the logistics sector is causing supply chain chaos.

Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, tells Just Style: “The latest Covid outbreak in China has started affecting the global textile and apparel supply chain and deserves a close watch. One imminent challenge is a nationwide labour shortage, production delays, and even factory closures as Covid cases surge. When Covid-19 first broke out in China in early 2020, garment-exporting countries in Asia struggled to get enough raw textile materials as China was their top supplier. The same situation could repeat this time.”