Hong Kong’s port loses floor as exporters pivot to mainland China

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for freeRoula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favorite tales on this weekly publication.Hong Kong has been hit by an accelerating decline in seaborne cargo volumes, as it loses out to rivals in mainland China and south-east Asia.Container throughput in Hong Kong fell 14 per cent final yr to 14.3mn twenty-foot equal models (TEUs), in line with figures from maritime consultancy Drewry.This was the largest share drop among the many world’s largest ports final yr. Hong Kong is now the Tenth-largest port on the planet by quantity, Drewry figures present, intently adopted by Malaysia’s Port Klang, the place volumes rose 6.4 per cent final yr.Hong Kong’s deepwater port on the coronary heart of the Pearl River Delta has lengthy made it a fascinating buying and selling gateway to the larger China area. As soon as the world’s busiest port, in line with Hong Kong authorities information, volumes have fallen as town’s producers shift to mainland China and competitors from different Chinese language ports rise, analysts mentioned.You’re seeing a snapshot of an interactive graphic. That is almost certainly on account of being offline or JavaScript being disabled in your browser.Shippers have come to treat services in mainland China as a extra engaging choice than Hong Kong, to which items manufactured within the delta area have to be trans-shipped by barge, small container ship or highway.“It’s at all times inevitable that Hong Kong would contract as a port,” mentioned Tim Huxley, chair of Hong Kong-based transport funding firm Mandarin Transport. “Manufacturing moved elsewhere. While [Hong Kong’s port] continues to be an enormous employer, it’s not the gateway to southern China as there are different ports within the Higher Bay Space which service the producers there,” mentioned Huxley, referring to the world across the Pearl River Delta.Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd’s settlement this yr to shift cargo to Shenzhen’s Yantian port as an alternative of Hong Kong underlines the pattern, in line with analysts. “The ports of Shenzhen and Guangzhou have invested in deepwater terminal services which facilitated a rise in mainline calls, in different phrases bypassing Hong Kong,” mentioned Eleanor Hadland, Drewry’s senior analyst of ports and terminals.You’re seeing a snapshot of an interactive graphic. That is almost certainly on account of being offline or JavaScript being disabled in your browser.Final yr’s drop in Hong Kong throughput was on account of elements together with “improved capability and functionality of terminals in Guangzhou and Shenzhen”, which permit carriers to bypass the territory, Hadland added.There was a “structural change” in shippers’ preferences to “direct cargo in China as an alternative of vessel-to-vessel transshipment” by way of Hong Kong, the territory’s main port operator Hutchison Ports Holdings Belief mentioned in its earnings report in February.“A few of the rivals in [the] Higher Bay Space proceed to obtain authorities incentives, therefore capable of supply engaging lower cost choice[s] to transport traces,” the corporate added.Of the six different Chinese language ports in Drewry’s high 10, 5 reported an increase in container throughput final yr. Shenzhen remained flat with a slight 0.5 per cent drop to an annual 29.9mn TEUs.You’re seeing a snapshot of an interactive graphic. That is almost certainly on account of being offline or JavaScript being disabled in your browser.Hong Kong’s port additionally faces growing competitors from counterparts in south-east Asia, Hadland added, as producers improve manufacturing outdoors of China.Singapore, the world’s second-busiest port after Shanghai, has benefited “as a result of south-east Asia, and Vietnam particularly, has picked up a number of the ‘China-plus-one’ story”, mentioned Anoop Singh, world head of transport analysis at Oil Brokerage. China nonetheless stays by far the “stronger producer throughout all industries”, and its manufacturing and transport infrastructure is unmatched in contrast with these in most south-east Asian international locations, mentioned Andrea Currone, vice-president of Asia operations at Berlin-based freight forwarder Forto.Extra reporting by Robert Wright in London

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