Guangzhou eyes international trade boost with channel widening

Guangzhou eyes international trade boost with channel widening

In the first seven months of 2020, Guangzhou-Nansha’s volume sat just under 12 million TEU, a 1.9 percent increase over the same period last year. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

China’s fourth-largest port is pledging to service the largest container ships even faster as it completes a $336 million widening project aimed at boosting the port’s share of international trade.

Guangzhou Port Authority added about 142 meters (465 feet) to the ship channel leading into the Nansha container terminal, bringing its width to 385 meters (1,263 feet), the terminal’s owner said.

The four-year-old widening project will allow bi-directional traffic along the 44-mile-long channel. The port said the project will reduce the time that ships have to wait for a berth window at the only deep-water container terminal in the western part of the Pearl River Delta.

Yi Bo Li, chairman of state-owned Guangzhou Port Group, said the company’s Nansha terminal will “make full use of the new advantages of newly built channels to improve port service efficiency, reduce integrated logistics costs, and strengthen integrated transportation hub functions as well as jointly build coastal connections with customers.”

Ultra-large container ships, which can carry up to 22,000 TEU, are up to 60 meters (200 feet) in width. Vessels that size have been able to call on Nansha for the last four years. 

The Guangzhou-Nansha port is one of the largest along China’s southern coast, exceeded only by Shenzhen, which sits further out of the Pearl River. 

In the first seven months of 2020, Guangzhou-Nansha’s volume sat just under 12 million TEU, a 1.9 percent increase over the same period last year. The port, though, expects volumes could rise up to 5 percent this year as activity through Golden Week looks strong, according to one source familiar with the port’s operations. 

In 2019, Guangzhou-Nansha saw container volume reach just over 23.2 million TEU, according to JOC rankings, a 6 percent gain over 2018. Shenzhen saw 25.8 million TEU in 2019, almost flat with 2018.

Four weekly sailings to US West Coast

Nansha has four weekly sailings to the US West Coast. Last year, 2M added a US East Coast service, Nansha’s first. 

Nansha has been trying to shift from largely serving intra-Asia trade to a greater emphasis on  international markets. That move coincides with a greater share of China’s manufacturing industry moving operations to the western side of the Pearl River thanks to cheaper land and lower labor costs.

One source said about half of Nansha’s container volumes are for international markets, compared with a quarter or less a decade ago, the source added.

In a bid for more international services, Nansha is adding a fourth, fully automated container terminal, expected to come online in the third quarter of 2021. A large cold storage facility is also expected to start next March, and the port has plans for on-dock rail for tying Nansha to China’s interior and Europe. 

Contact Michael Angell at bizwritermike@gmail.com.