Guangdong is poised to take the lion's share of logistics and ports trade A high-level government advisory body has added to the growing chorus of warnings that Hong Kong will have to work hard to avoid being marginalised by booming growth in the Pearl River Delta. Guangdong's rapid development of heavy and high-value-added industries poses severe challenges to Hong Kong as it will reduce reliance on the city's ports and logistics facilities, the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council said. The council said it was generally expected that Shenzhen's container throughput would surpass Hong Kong's in two to three years' time. 'Hong Kong's ports and logistics facilities were primarily developed for containers and will not be able to provide the logistic support needed by the heavy and petrochemical industries,' the council said in a report, 'Guangdong Restructuring and Development of Western Pearl River Delta Region'. 'This, coupled with the rapid expansion of ports and airports in Guangdong, will accelerate cargo diversion from Hong Kong.' The report echoed a warning by Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan earlier this year that the breakneck development of ports and roads in the delta threatened to marginalise Hong Kong. Outgoing head of the General Chamber of Commerce Eden Woon Yi-teng also said in April he feared for the city's long-term future. Council chairman Victor Fung Kwok-king said yesterday that Hong Kong should be cautious about the problem of being marginalised but was quick to add that it 'should not be over-worried in the short term'. Government economist Kwok Kwok-chuen disagreed that Hong Kong was losing its advantage. 'Hong Kong has good development on air traffic, logistics and supply chain management,' he said. The report noted that last year, container throughput in Hong Kong rose only 2 per cent to 22.4 million teu (20-foot equivalent units), while Shenzhen's rose 19.1 per cent to 16.2 million. Mr Fung said the services industry in Hong Kong, which accounted for 90 per cent of the city's economy, should explore the mainland market as Guangdong had expressed an intention to speed up development of its service industries. The council recommended that Hong Kong speed up the construction of transport links with Guangdong and called on the administration to improve the efficiency of customs clearance. Tuan Chyau, a professor with the Chinese University's department of decision sciences and managerial economics, said Shenzhen had the advantage of lower handling costs. 'But we are more efficient and we always deliver the goods in time. For the future, we should look into ways to upgrade our services to increase income such as helping the buyers to categorise goods so they can be put on the shelves immediately.' A companion report, 'Prospects for Collaboration with Hong Kong', said: 'Hong Kong's main comparative advantages lie in its position as an international finance centre, a trade centre, a shipping centre, and an entrepot; its strengths in tourism, logistics, professional service areas and its contacts with the world.'