Hong Kong’s Container Traffic Faces Further Decline

Hong Kong’s Container Traffic Faces Further Decline

Hong Kong container port

The port of Hong Kong, which is already losing container market share to rival Chinese ports, faces further “significant” decline in volume following the launch of the P3 Network alliance, according to Alphaliner.

Hong Kong’s container throughput in the last four years.

Hong Kong saw traffic fall 3.3 percent in 2013, the largest decline among the world’s Top 20 ports, the industry analyst said. This pushed Hong Kong, the world’s biggest container hub between 2000 and 2004, to fourth place in the global league rankings behind Shanghai, Singapore and Shenzhen.

Hong Kong, which has faced increased competition from other Pearl River Delta ports in recent years, faces further loss of market share to South China ports later this year through shifts in ocean carrier alliances, Alphaliner predicts. The P3 carriers – Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM – will cut the number of Hong Kong calls on their westbound strings to Europe from six to three when they launch their alliance this spring, pending regulatory approval, “which could result in significant volume loss for the port,” Alphaliner said.

The 3.3 percent shrinkage in Hong Kong’s 2013 traffic to 22.35 million TEUs contrasts with market leader Shanghai’s 3.3 percent increase to 33.6 million TEUs. Second-ranked Singapore was up 2.9 percent at 32.58 million TEUs, and third-placed Shenzhen saw a 1.5 percent increase to 23.28 million TEUs.

The world’s Top 20 ports posted average growth of 3.3 percent in 2013, according to Alphaliner. Chinese ports booked the biggest increase and the biggest decline: Dalian boosted traffic by 22.9 percent to 9.9 million TEUs, while Xiamen slumped 11.2 percent to 8 million TEUs.

Despite its poor performance, Hong Kong managed to attract new terminal investments which could help stem its long-term volume decline, Alphaliner said. Cosco and China Shipping last week acquired 40 percent and 20 percent stakes respectively in Asia Container Terminals from Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings Trust for $318 million.

ACT owns and operates a 740-meter berth with a capacity of 2 million TEUs per year. The berth is adjacent to the Cosco-HIT terminal, and together they form a contiguous 1,380-meter berth that can handle container ships of up to 19,000 TEUs.

Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.