firstname.lastname@example.org It is a general consensus in Hong Kong's logistics industry that the most important decisions made this year will concern the shape of the business model for the digital trade transport network and the company chosen to manage it. Management of Hong Kong's international and multi-modal trade will have to move away from the tangible paper environment for reasons of efficiency and accuracy if we are to secure a competitive advantage against our ambitious regional rivals. But step back from cyberspace and there are also some hard decisions which, in the next few years, will need to be made in the land of bricks and mortar, too. First and foremost is the project on everyone's lips: The bridge linking Lantau with Zhuhai and Macau. The problem is, while it appears to be a priority for an increasingly anxious Hong Kong government and local industries, our new-found zeal for the project does not appear to have caught on across the border. However, the indifference of our Guangdong counterparts on the eastern side of the delta to the project should not come as a surprise. If it does it is due to the blinkered way we have viewed our relationship with the municipal governments in Guangzhou and Shenzhen. While there has been a lot of marketing talk about co-operation with our 'brothers' across the border, the only real breakthrough on the logistics front - liberalised border hours - came after Hong Kong went over Shenzhen's head to Beijing about the matter. More illustrative has been the infrequent appearances of high-level Guangdong officials at the plethora of conferences in the SAR about Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation in the past year. Those officials that did come were markedly less effusive than their Hong Kong counterparts. The bridge will be the vital link to the western side of the delta, where the lion's share of the province's future manufacturing potential lies. Let's hope Guangdong can be brought around before that potential chooses to bypass our facilities. Some hard questions will also have to be answered about the viability going forward of the existing port as a conduit for deep sea trade, particularly that on the transpacific and Far East-Europe routes. Despite a recent Marine Department disclosure that water depths to the main terminals have been dredged to 15.5 metres, and protestations from terminal operators that there is no concrete evidence future ships will require deeper water, vessel sizes continue to astound the industry. While the operators are right - there are no official plans for 10,000-box capacity vessels and drafts exceeding Hong Kong's capability - the fact is carriers jealously protect disclosure of such plans, as evidenced by this week's discovery that the 8,000-box barrier (14.5-metre draft) has already been broken. Before the year is out, Below Deck is willing to bet one of the world's leading shipping lines, probably one based in Asia, will order a 10,000-box vessel in South Korea. They may have already. It therefore may be in Hong Kong's best interest to accept that most of the berths in Kwai Chung, particularly CTs 1 through 6, will in the future only be suitable for the booming intra-Asia trades, where multiple port calls should keep vessel sizes in the 5,000- to 6,000-box range for the next decade. Vessels moving goods between Asia and the United States and Europe may have to call at CTs 7 to 9 and elsewhere, but preferably still in Hong Kong. While the thought will no doubt alarm existing terminal operators, it does need to be viewed darkly, given that the intra-Asia trades are the biggest in the world and growing faster than any other market, particularly to and from China. Diverting some inter-continental cargo to terminals outside Kwai Chung would also allow us to address issues of harbour management and high costs. Our container handling costs are among the highest in the world in part because of the astronomical land premium paid for CT7. The business models of all other terminals mirror that of CT7, which was geared to turn a profit despite its HK$4.4 billion price-tag. A new deep-sea terminal would unlikely be saddled with such high land costs. And it would make room in Kwai Chung for the mid-stream traffic which continues to blight our harbour.