Hutchison International Port Holdings (HPH), Mitsui & Co (Hong Kong) and two other partners are building an inland container depot at Guanlan near Shenzhen. The facility, which is expected to boost container throughput at HPH's fast-growing Yantian port, will be a boon to shippers with production facilities in the southern mainland. Presently, most shippers truck cargo to Hong Kong for export, with only a few using Yantian. The Guanlan facility, comprising a 42,000-square-metre warehouse, is due to open later this month. Equipped with modern facilities, the depot will be able to provide an integrated service ranging from customs clearance for export cargo and warehousing to container transport and processing. Guanlan is about 30 kilometres northwest of Yantian. The depot is being built by Shenzhen Hutchison Inland Container Depots, a joint venture 77.5 per cent owned by the Hutchison group, 7.5 per cent by Mitsui and 15 per cent by two other companies. Meanwhile, HPH's Shanghai Container Terminal (SCT) has come out in defence of its decision to increase its tariffs. SCT's argument is that the increases are only 1.5 per cent of the freight increases imposed by shipping lines. The terminal operator, which also has been hit by the decline in intra-Asia trade and the recession, recently came under fire from carriers which criticised the terminal for raising its tariffs. 'The tariff rise of US$6.40 per teu [20 ft equivalent unit] should not cause any problems for some shipping lines which had increased freight rates by an average $400 to $500 per teu on cargo shipments from the mainland to North America and Canada,' SCT said. SCT said it needed the funds to improve facilities and bolster its services to meet the growing needs of the larger ocean-going vessels calling at its berths. It said the tariff rises affected only small shipping lines operating in Southeast Asia between the mainland and Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. Shipowners said it should be the responsibility of the terminal operators to meet extra costs and not pass the investment costs on to them. Owners, who have been hit hard by the recession, said business already was difficult without the additional terminal-handling fees. The owners claimed SCT, which had advanced facilities and equipment and a good geographical position, had become monopolistic and was taking advantage of them. Sources said shipping lines would try to put more cargo through Shanghai port's container facilities at Waigaoqiao in Pudong, which charged lower tariffs than SCT. It is unclear whether Waigaoqiao plans to increase tariffs.