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Shenzhen poses a threat to Hong Kong

27 Nov 2013
Hong Kong could struggle to keep trade. Photo: Magalie L'Abbe

Hong Kong could struggle to keep trade. Photo: Magalie L'Abbe

Hong Kong’s competitiveness looks to be hanging by a thread as port authorities in China’s Shenzhen work to persuade carriers to skip the country as a transit hub and do business directly with them.

A Shenzhen customs office has allegedly been advising an international shipping line on how to use a paperwork loophole to skip Hong Kong as the port of origin in the manifest submitted to Shenzhen customs.

Alan Lee, chairman, Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Association, said to Port Strategy: “Under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, Hong Kong is able to handle cargo originating in mainland China to be carried by a foreign flagged vessel to Hong Kong to be transhipped to a hub port in China for export.”

“As long as China does not give up this sovereignty right and maintains the cabotage rules in order to protect the Chinese shipping line fleets, then Hong Kong will continue to benefit,” he added.

To make matters worse, sister publication GreenPort recently reported on Hong Kong’s loss of trade as a result of its upcoming new law, which will require vessels to use extra-low sulphur diesel upon arriving at berths at Kwai Chung Container Terminal from January 2015.

It has been estimated that the switch could add between US$600,000 and US$1.5m to a shipping line’s annual fuel bill.

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, added: “There might be an impact on Hong Kong’s cost competitiveness, but this is likely to be short-lived because it is now clear that Shenzhen is rapidly moving towards similar legislation, and there is already an intention to work towards an Emission Control Area for the Pearl River Delta.”

It seems Hong Kong must rely on its “network connectivity and free port status” and hope for the best.

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Hong Kong could struggle to keep trade. Photo: Magalie L'Abbe

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