Opening of the first berth is welcomed as a boost for Hong Kong's productivity The first berth in the long-awaited Container Terminal 9 project opened yesterday and was hailed by government and port officials as a shining example of the power of private and public sector co-operation. While executives at the gala for the launch of the full six-berth complex at Tsing Yi conceded CT9's capacity might not be as desperately needed as it was when the tender was awarded in 1992, they said it would vastly boost productivity and improve Hong Kong's ability to attract new business. Stephen Ip Shu-kwan, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, said the terminal's launch marked an important milestone. 'We all know the logistics sector has enormous potential ... [but] we will take nothing for granted and will work doubly hard to ensure those prospects become reality,' Mr Ip said. When fully operational, the HK$10 billion CT9's six berths should boost the main terminal's annual capacity by about 15 per cent, or 2.6 million boxes. Miriam Lau Kin-yee, Liberal Party legislator for the transport sector, conceded the need to boost handling capacity might have faded, but added CT9 would boost the revenue potential for the port-dependant business sector. 'When CT9 was debated in Legco in 1994, we may have needed it more then. But this is proof we are moving ahead. Now that we have the capacity, we should be going out to grab more business,' she said. Erik Bogh Christensen, managing director of Modern Terminals, gave the government credit for bucking the trend in 1998 to set a land premium which the private-sector found attractive. 'The market was terrible in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, so we were all reluctant takers. But the government set the premium at HK$380 million, which was nothing for six berths and that created interest.' Hongkong International Terminals, which will operate the first berth at CT9, paid a land premium of HK$4.39 billion for CT7.