Hong Kong forecasts 20M TEUs this year

Hong Kong forecasts 20M TEUs this year

Hong Kong expects to handle a record 20 million TEUs this year, officials said on the formal opening of the first berth at the new Container Terminal 9, maintaining its position as the world's busiest container port.

In 2002, Hong Kong set a record by handling more than 19.1 million TEUs.

"Roughly speaking, our port handles one box every one-and-a half seconds,

24 hours a day, seven days a week," Stephen Ip, Secretary for Economic Development and Labor, said at the opening ceremony.

When fully operational commissioning in 2005, the six-berth CT9 will increase Hong Kong's capacity by more than 2.6 million TEUs.

The new berth on Tsing Yi Island - 14 months late - is the first addition to the main Kwai Chung container center in nine years. It will also be the last.

Dominant operator Hongkong International Terminals Ltd. will take the first two berths at the new terminal and No. 2 Modern Terminals Ltd. will acquire two later in a complex swap deal.

The development is being jointly financed by HIT, MTL and Asia Container Terminals Ltd., which operates the single-berth Terminal 3.

Erik Bogh Christensen, managing director of MTL, forecast Hong Kong will increase volumes by more than 500,000 TEUs this year despite continuing competition from China's nearby Shenzhen ports. They have been winning some business away from Hong Kong, in part on much lower rates.

Ip said the government will continue developing a long-term port blueprint through its 2020 master plan, due for completion by year's end. "The study will update the port cargo forecasts and will propose a competitive and sustainable strategy as well as a master plan for Hong Kong's port development, including the feasibility of constructing Container Terminal 10.'' That proposal, if realized, would be on outlying Lantau Island, home of the international airport.