Shanghai and Kaohsiung square off in port rankings
Taiwan's Kaohsiung and Shanghai are neck and neck in the race to be the world's fourth-busiest container port for last year, with the mainland port tipped to come out the winner.
Although the two facilities are fierce rivals, a senior executive in Kaohsiung conceded Shanghai was likely to surpass Kaohsiung into fourth place because of the rapid development in the Yangtze River Delta.
'Shanghai, with a large population and catchment area at the Yangtze River Delta, is developing rapidly,' said Teng Yu-i, deputy director of Kaohsiung Harbour Bureau. 'It's not surprising to see Shanghai [ports] surpassing ours.'
In the first 11 months of last year, Shanghai handled 7.93 million teu (20 ft equivalent unit), whereas Kaohsiung handled 7.72 million teu.
The difference is roughly five day's worth of business for either city.
'The economy in Taiwan was not as vibrant this year. Many Taiwanese enterprises have moved overseas, especially to the mainland. It has affected our volume,' Mr Teng said.
Kaohsiung was the fourth-largest container port in the world in 2001, after Hong Kong, Singapore and Busan, South Korea. Shanghai was fifth.
Half of the cargo handled in Kaohsiung was transshipments, and the rest was equally split between exports and imports.
But being dependent on trans-shipment has left the city vulnerable to manufacturing shifts such as the increasing migration of Taiwanese factories to the Yangtze delta region.
Mr Teng expects Taiwan's major port to have handled 700,000 teu last month, bringing its total for the year to about 8.42 million teu - exceeding its earlier projection of eight million teu.
'The results went better than expected. We recorded a year on year growth of more than 10 per cent,' he said.
But he conceded Kaohsiung failed to capture the rapid economic growth on the mainland because of the ban on direct trade across the Taiwan Strait.
The Shanghai Port Authority expected its cargo throughput to reach 8.5 million teu for last year, 34 per cent higher than the 6.34 million boxes it moved in 2001.
'We are still calculating the December figure, but we are expecting to achieve 8.5 million teu this year,' an authority official said. 'We are confident of surpassing Kaohsiung.'
He said the mainland's fast-paced economic growth - coupled with the influx of foreign investment and rapid flow of trade - favoured the development of Shanghai as a major seaport.
'A lot of foreign investors are coming to the Yangtze River Delta. There are also a lot of Taiwan enterprises in Shanghai,' he said.
Container ports on the mainland flourished last year.
Shenzhen is expected to have moved 7.5 million boxes during the course of last year, a rise of 50 per cent.
In the first 11 months of last year, Shanghai handled 7.93 million teu, compared to Kaohsiung's 7.72 million teu
The southern Taiwan city
expects to reach about 8.42
million teu for last year, for a growth of 10 per cent. Shanghai expects to hit 8.5 million, for growth of 34 per cent
That would make Shanghai the fourth-largest port in the world, behind Hong Kong, Singapore and Busan, in South Korea