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Slowing growth rates in regional contianer handling

The growth rate of Hong Kong’s container port traffic has been slowing for several years. Accroding to the Study on Hong Kong Port Cargo Forecasts http://www.logisticshk.gov.hk/board/PCF05-06ES.pdf), growth at the port averaged 12.8% p.a. in 1992-97 and then fell to 5.7% p.a. in the period 2001-06. At the same time, Hong Kong’s port traffic structure has undergone substantial changes. In recent years, while direct oceancargo has seen little or no growth, transhipment of containers between ocean vessels has surged, increasing 13.5% p.a. 2001-06. The share of ocean-to-ocean transhipment in total throughput expanded from 14.9% in 2001 to 21.2% in 2006. Also, the use of barging for inland transport has increased.

Hong Kong’s Mainland competitor ports have made dramatic strides in recent years. Of particular significance is the Shenzhen and Guangzhou ports’ share of the South China Cargo Base (Guangdong and Hong Kong generated import/export cargo). This has increased rapidly from 24% in 2001 to 55% in 2006. Conversely, Hong Kong’s share declined from 76% in 2001 to 45% in 2006. The Shenzhen ports handled 18.5 million TEUs in 2006. The growth of their traffic has been extremely high over the period 2001-2006, averaging 29.6% p.a. In Jan-July 2008, the Shenzhen ports handled 12.2 million TEUs, at a growth of 7% over the same period last year. But the growth rate is significantly lower--around 50% lower--than the growth rate in July 2007, which was 15.6% over July 2006. In Jan-Jul 2008, the Hong Kong port handled 14.2 million TEU, 4.4% than the same period last year. In July 2008, the Hong port’s throughput totalled 2.2 million TEU (+4.7%) while the Shenzhen ports’ througput was 1.97 million TEU (+6%).