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China Fuels World Shipping Industry
2005-6-14 10:33:34      People's Daily
Shanghai Int'l Shipping Center may bring a change to the Asian-Pacific seaways.
The international shipping giants, including The Maersk Company Ltd, Hutchison Whampoa, China Merchants Holdings (International) Company Limited and PSA Corporation Limited, expressed recently at the 24th World Ports Conference held in Shanghai that the construction of Shanghai International Shipping Center is expected to bring a change to the layout of Asian-Pacific seaways.

It is the first time that the biennial international meeting, the highest level and the largest of its kind in the world, was convened in China. China's recent impact on international shipping industry is the underlying reason.

Port expansion to shift the Asian-Pacific hub

In 2004, the throughput of Shanghai harbor reached 14.55 million TEU, ranking the third in the world. The Yangshan deep-water port, scheduled to be operational this year, will turn Shanghai into a real deep-water sea port from a river port.

Its 15-meter-deep water can hold the biggest ship in the world loaded with 8,500 containers. This means that the loading volume of this ship model will be more than doubled compared with that when anchored at the old port.

So far the top five container ports in the world are all located in the Asian-Pacific region. A port chain has thus been formed, running from Pusan and Kobe and southward Shanghai, Kaohsiung, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Hong Kong and Singapore in the southern Asia-Pacific area are recognized as international shipping centers. But insiders forecast the establishment of the Yangshan port will make the Asian-Pacific navigation hub shift to Shanghai.

Chinese Minister of Communications Zhang Chunxian said that there were 1,430 ports and 34,000 berths in China by the end of last year, with total throughput of 4.17 billion tons, up 19 times if compared with that in 1980. The ports is one of the leaders in the world in terms of total ports' scale and handling records, with eight among the big ones in the world handling 100 million tons.

From a perspective of the national strategy, there are three port groups in China: the Pearl River Delta group in South China with Hong Kong as an international shipping center; Yangtze River Delta in East China with Shanghai as the center and the one along the Bohai Bay in the north with Dalian, Tianjin and Qingdao as the main ports.

Economic development offers valuable opportunities to ports

Zhang Chunxian forecast that China's ports are facing rare development opportunities. On one hand, China will maintain a fast economic growth in the comparatively long time to come. By 2020 China will quadruple its GDP on the basis of nearly 1trillion US dollars in 2000. On the other hand, China will continue to adhere to the reform and opening-up policy, further expand its economic links with the world and maintain stable and fast growth of trade which stands 1.15 trillion USD currently.

According to the analysis by Zhang Chunxian, with economic globalization and the readjustment of industrial structure, China will gradually become a world's manufacturing center and accelerate the diversion of heavy chemical industries and processing manufacturers towards ports and traffic trunks, bringing about the rapid development of the industries close to ports.

Foreign investors are welcome to participate in China's port construction. The Chinese government has adopted a series of policies and measures to encourage social fund and foreign capital to engage in the construction and management of port facilities.

Besides, the central and local governments have put forward preferential policies, including special funds for port construction, favorable land and taxation treatment so that port construction will be guaranteed to adapt to the development of national economy and foreign trade.

Trade growth will stimulate world ocean shipping industry to restore prosperity

In 1970s, the shipbuilding sector suffered 25-year long bubbles due to the over-supply of vessels. It was not until year 2000 that the ocean shipping business began the balanced growth cycle. Dr. Martin Stopford, director and general manager with Clarkson Research Studies under The Clarkson Company, a well-known consulting company of the world's shipping industry, believed that the first driving force for the revival is the functioning of the business cycle, and China's trade growth is the second most important momentum.

In the past two years, China has attracted the attention of the industry in the world and its oceanic trade growth accounted for more than 60 per cent of the world's total. Although still making up of 10 per cent of the world's ocean transportation imports and 5 per cent of the exports, China exerts an important impact on the industry due to its fast growth.

"The imports and exports of China's goods will continue to grow, and more than 90 per cent of them will be delivered by sea". Tu Deming, director of the China Ports and Harbors Association, told reporters that the Ministry of Commerce made a conservative estimation that the foreign trade growth will be up 15 per cent in 2005, and specialists forecast it will be up about 20 per cent. That will be good news for port business.

(Photo Source:Google)

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