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China's COSCO Shipping Lines on Sunday marked the opening of a new regional service of container shipping that connects the ports in Northern Europe and those in the Mediterranean Sea.

Addressing the opening ceremony in Istanbul, Tian Dong, vice president of COSCO Shipping (Europe), described the new direct service as a "milestone" for the shipping lines, as it is provided by a Chinese company for the first time in the region.

With the latest move, the shipping lines is rolling out the business of intra-Europe trade across the whole European region.

Tian noted that the intra-Europe trade saw an annual increase of 70 percent over the last two years, with the shipping lines offering a total of 12 services now in the region of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

According to the lines, the new service will help its own feeder service grow from several individual lines to a collaborative net, a development that will much improve the shipping lines' service ability and quality in the region.

The shipping lines has invested in the terminals of Piraeus, Kumport and Antwerp, located respectively in Greece, Istanbul and Belgium.

By calling at Piraeus, the new service shall fully connect the ports in Northern Europe and those in the Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, enabling it to have 15 trunk and feeder vessels call at the Greek port per week and supply the "most competitive" services to its customers, the lines said.

It noted that the new service offers as well a new route for cargo to be shipped from the Mediterranean to the United States by calling at Italy's Salerno.

Huang Songfeng, the Chinese commercial consul, said he believes the new service is helpful in developing new markets in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative as well as in exploiting the unique geographical advantages of Istanbul and Turkey.