Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) expects to handle more than five million teu (20 ft equivalent units) this year, according to managing director Eric Ip. He said the throughput this year, boosted by a rush of shippers hoping to avoid year-2000 computer bug problems, would be close to 1997 levels. Mr Ip said throughput at HIT had fallen because of the Asian financial crisis, which had hurt intra-Asian trade, and because Orient Overseas Container Line had moved to Modern Terminals (MTL) following new alliance arrangements. HIT planned to offer its IT services to help clients move their cargo into and out of Hong Kong, Mr Ip said. 'We will try to facilitate their logistics needs,' he said. HIT upgraded its IT capabilities through a recent tie-up with Arena and was in discussions with shippers and shipping lines about this project, he said. In a separate development, a Bloomberg report quoted MTL managing director Erik Bough Christensen as saying he expected MTL to record throughput growth of 10 per cent this year. Wharf (Holdings) owns 50.8 per cent of MTL. 'I would be very happy if next year's growth is 4 to 5 per cent,' Mr Christensen said. 'We will see the impact of China being in the WTO only in 2001 and 2002.' October throughput at the Kwai Chung container port rose 13.5 per cent year on year to 966,600 teu, the best growth rate this year, said Alex Fong, secretary of the Hong Kong Port and Maritime Board.