Shipping giants Maersk Sealand and Taiwan's Evergreen Marine are in talks with Xiamen authorities to set up a presence in the closest mainland port to Taiwan, according to the city's deputy mayor.
'Maersk wants to come. Taiwan's Evergreen wants to come. But I'm not sure how their negotiations are going,' Xiamen municipal government deputy mayor Chen Conghui said yesterday on the sidelines of the promotional symposium of the 6th China International Fair for Investment and Trade in Hong Kong.
Mr Chen did not say in which ports the foreign shipping giants were interested in making an investment.
Xiamen is in the third stage of developing its port infrastructure.
Some of the rights for those ports have already been secured by conglomerates in Hong Kong.
In the Haicang Port, berth No 1 and berths No 4 to No 8 are being built.
Hutchison Delta Ports signed agreements to operate berths No 1 and No 4 in September last year, expanding on its existing investments in Berth No 2 and No 3.
The Xiamen Port Authority is building East Channel Port Zone berths 12 to 18.
However, last month New World Development's Pacific Ports subsidiary announced that it had set up a 50:50 joint venture to operate East Channel Port Zone for berths 12 to 16.
In other words, Haicang Port berths five to eight, as well as East Channel Port Zone Berth No 17 and No 18 all lack foreign partners to help Xiamen operate the ports.
'We do not intend to independently operate [the ports]. We want to partner up with some foreigners, especially large port companies and shipping companies to use their resources,' Mr Chen said.
Business at Xiamen ports is expected to grow rapidly once direct links between Taiwan and the mainland are opened.
Several weeks ago, the first direct sea link between Xiamen's Quanzhou Port in Fujian and Taiwan's Penghu Island was established.
Already, Xiamen has revised upwards its full-year forecast for Xiamen Port's cargo handling.
'We originally set the target of 1.6 million teus [20-foot equivalent units]. Now we have revised our forecasts upwards to 1.7 million to 1.8 million teus because shipping in the second half of the year is usually greater due to the holiday season,' Mr Chen said.
Xiamen Port has already handled 807,600 teus worth of cargo in the first half of this year, up 33 per cent from the same period last year.