[photopress:yantien.jpg,full,alignright]The headline is only precisely exact perhaps in a relative way although there are those in the industry who argue it is precisely right. Hong Kong port last year handled almost two million boxes more than in 2005 that was only a growth of 2.8%.
The main growth is in Shenzhen which you could think of as Hong Kong’s main rival. There the growth was 14% — 18.46 million containers during the year. It could be argued that Shenzhen is siphoning off Hong Kong’s direct South China export containers. Shippers are increasingly sending their exports out via Yantian.
By way of Hong Kong there are customs delays, regulations and high terminal handling charges which add US$250 per FEU to the cost of exporting boxes via Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen.
Alan Lee, chairman of the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators’ Association, said the drop of 5% over two years was bad news. He said, ‘At Shenzhen terminals, 90% of all cargo is direct shipments from the factories and they are growing at 14%. We are growing at 2.8% with 66% of containers counted twice. We are overstating Hong Kong’s growth and understating that of Shenzhen.’
Citigroup analyst Charles de Trenck warned that Hong Kong could lose its lead in Southern China to Shenzhen. But, he said, ‘The consensus may point to a gradual loss of volumes to Shenzhen, rather than an accelerated decline.’
In its Port Masterplan 2020 report for the government released in 2004, GHK consultants described the cutting of trucking costs of carrying a container across the boundary from Shenzhen to Hong Kong as ‘mission critical’. Two years on and just US$50 has been shaved off the cost differential but it has had little effect in slowing the drop in Hong Kong’s market share of direct South China exports.
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