French carrier executive puts the blame on a short-sighted policy for global carriers using alternative regional hubs China's burgeoning port of Ningbo, which posted the mainland's highest throughput growth in the first half, would capture an even greater share of north Asia's transshipment traffic if the price of feeding cargo in the Yangtze River delta was not so high, said an executive with a top European carrier. Ludovic Rozan, the head of CMA-CGM Group's Asia-Europe operations, said the French carrier was keen to establish its China hub at Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, but the comparatively high cost of doing business there had the company considering other options. 'We would like to use Ningbo as one of our main Asian hub ports, but the current situation means that ports such as Pusan, Hong Kong and Singapore are much more financially attractive simply because of the high cost involved in operating Chinese domestic feeder services,' Mr Rozan told delegates during Seatrade's London International Maritime conference last week. Mr Rozan said the problem did not lie with the Ningbo port management, but he urged it to convince the bureaucrats not to waste Ningbo's transshipment potential by enforcing a 'short-sighted policy' that artificially inflated the costs of linking with international markets on short-sea voyages. Ningbo's principal container handling facility is the Ningbo Beilun International Container Terminal, established in June 2001 as a joint venture with Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH). Hutchison is a 49 per cent stakeholder in Ningbo's Phase II, which offers three berths. The port is developing phases IV and V, the latter on Daxie Island opposite existing terminals. Phase IV will offer five berths across 3,000 metres of waterfront and a minimum alongside depth of 17 metres, enough for the biggest vessels on the classification societies' drawing boards. The first two berths will be operational next year. Phase V will offer four berths across 1,400 metres with the same minimum water depths. Two berths will open by 2007. Port of Ningbo director Li Linghong said: 'It is envisaged that Phase IV would involve three joint-venture partners. We are already talking to five parties.' Several Hong Kong newspapers last week reported that HPH was one of those parties, but the company has since denied the reports. 'The reports are inaccurate. We are always talking to the Ningbo Port Authority, but those discussions are on an operational level,' Ningbo Beilun terminal director and general manager Eddie Wong told the South China Morning Post. 'We have talked about long-term development but not specifically Phases III, IV and V.' Sources in London yesterday pointed to CMA-CGM and Mediterranean Shipping, two of Europe's biggest container shipping lines plying the China, the United States and Europe trades, as likely candidates to take part in Ningbo's latest expansion plans. The port was on course to handle 2.6 million 20-foot equivalent units this year.