[photopress:Hong_Kong_container_port.jpg,full,alignright]Greg Knowler is the editor of CargoNews Asia. In an editorial he dismisses Hong Kong as a major port with a major future.
A strongly edited version of what he wrote follows. The full account is in Cargo News Asia.
Hong Kong hosted the general meeting of the influential Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) last week. Its influence could be seen by the name topping the list of opening session speakers — none other than Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang. A shipping conference would usually be fronted by an official of lesser stature than the boss himself.
Tsang informed the BIMCO delegates that the national government fully supported Hong Kong’s position as an international maritime centre. . .
Then came the denial. He said Hong Kong was rising to the challenge from these ports by ‘improving the quality of service and upgrading the skills and knowledge of our maritime professionals’.
If the chief executive really believes that by improving service quality and skills, the port will fend off the challenge being posed by Shenzhen, then he needs to sit down and read the research reports by consultants his government paid for.
Because no matter how efficient Hong Kong becomes, no matter how many container moves its cranes can make an hour, no matter how high it can stack boxes and turn around ships, it still costs around US$250 more per FEU to truck the box across the border than to export it via the Shenzhen port of Yantian.
This has seen Hong Kong’s market share of South China direct exports plunge from 80% in 2000 to less than 50% last year.
Hong Kong port’s best days are behind it . . . and in the absence of any meaningful cost-slashing cross-border initiatives, its inexorable decline will continue.
Source: Cargo News Asia
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