Port of Shenzhen continues to set volume records

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 July, 2003, 12:00am

Cargo throughput surges 42 per cent, prompting mainland officials to substantially upgrade the annual projection

Container terminals in Shenzhen continued to demonstrate their immunity to negative economic forces in the first half, with cargo throughput growing more than 40 per cent year on year.

The growth has prompted officials to substantially upgrade the annual volume forecast.

Almost 4.6 million teu (20-ft equivalent units) was handled at thefourterminals, which comprise the port of Shenzhen, up a comparative 42.29 per cent, according to the Shenzhen Municipal Port Bureau.

'The result is fine. Last month was a record month, with cargo throughput reaching 855,100 teu, up 39.24 per cent year on year,' bureau director Zhou Tianlin said.

The bureau had projected Shenzhen would reach the 8.5-million box mark this year, but adjusted its forecast after the first-half surge in goods.

'Probably we can reach 9.5 million teu by the end of this year,' Mr Zhou said. 'The second half of the year will be busier, as usual.'

Mr Zhou admitted there were worries last month that the target would not be reached because of the Sars outbreak, but he said the impact of the epidemic would be limited to slowing Shenzhen's growth rate.

'Sars didn't last long. Businessmen started to go back to China last month to make orders. I think the growth rate of container throughput will be about 40 per cent [in the third quarter],' he said.

With the signing of the closer economic partnership arrangement (Cepa) between Hong Kong and the mainland, Mr Zhou expects cargo volume to surge further as trade flows improve.

The port of Shenzhen moved ahead of Kaohsiung, in Taiwan, last month to become the world's No 5 port in terms of throughput.

Shenzhen handled 83,000 teu more than Kaohsiung in the first five months of this year.

Kaohsiung has yet to release box figures for the past six months, but Kaohsiung Harbour Bureau deputy director Teng Yu-I said the trend was likely to continue.

'Shenzhen will probably stay ahead of us this year. It has a big catchment area in Guangdong province and the goods from there will not flow to our terminals,' Mr Teng said.

About 55 per cent of Kaohsiung's cargo throughput is transshipment, while 90 per cent of Shenzhen's cargo is exports and imports linked to the Pearl River Delta'sburgeoningmanufacturing base.

In Shenzhen, the strong growth in throughput has pushed terminals in the west to near maximum capacity.

Shekou Container Terminal (SCT), which is majority owned by China Merchants and managed by the Wharf Group's Modern Terminals, handled 635,700 teu in the first half, a comparative growth of 82.85 per cent.

Chiwan Container Terminal (CCT), run by another subsidiary of China Merchants, reported comparative growth of 40.93 per cent to 716,800 teu.

SCT chief executive Cheyenne Yu said the terminal had reached its maximum capacity. The third berth will be completed by the end of this year.

'We reported strong growth because we had a low base last year. Yantian [on the eastern delta] is getting busier so many goods spilled over to our terminal and shipping lines are operating more routes,' Mr Yu said.

A source from CCT also said its handling capacity was nearly fully utilised at the weekend, and it would take time for the port to buy or develop infrastructure to catch up with demand.

'Our fourth berth is expected to be completed in November,' he said. Yantian, owned by Hutchison Whampoa, continued to be the busiest port in Shenzhen, handling 2.31 million boxes in the first half, up 30.58 per cent year on year.