Foundation report criticises Government over terminal estimates

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 April, 1997, 12:00am

The Better Hong Kong Foundation has released a study of the territory's container handling services criticising the Government's estimates on the need for new terminals and the lack of competition among operators.

The study, commissioned by the foundation and co-ordinated by the Hong Kong Centre for Economic Research, disputes the Government's claim container terminals 10 and 11 would be needed by 2000 and 2002.

According to Professor Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon, the discrepancy was due to the Port Development Board's gross under-estimation of existing container handling capacity and its over-optimistic forecasts on future demand.

The report said there were also uncertainties arising from Hong Kong's competition with south China ports and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

'We cannot say that Terminals 12 and 13 will be needed at this point with the same degree of conviction we can say about Terminals 10 and 11,' the report said.

It asked the Government to keep the decision on the two terminals open until the picture became clearer.

As there were only two independent major terminal operators, the study suspected there might be some collusion. It recommended the introduction of new independent terminal operators.

The study was one of nine research projects commissioned by the foundation.

Yesterday it released the findings of two more projects entitled 'Technology and Industry' and 'Trade and Investment in Greater China'.

It suggested Hong Kong manufacturers veer towards design-intensive goods and called for the Government's support in building a technology base in the territory.

The findings echoed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's recent report 'Made by Hong Kong'.

The report recommended closer ties between the Government and business community to encourage production of high value-added goods.

The foundation's third report on trade and investment explained the ever-widening Sino-US trade deficit was a result of 'deficit shifting'.

As factories from Hong Kong and Taiwan moved to the mainland, the US trade deficit with China grew while its deficit with Hong Kong and Taiwan declined, the report said.