Hong Kong is stepping up efforts to beat back rival Singapore as one of the world’s top maritime centers with a plan to create an inter-agency maritime department that will serve as a one-stop shop offering various shipping services to carriers.
The proposed maritime bureau will be primarily focused on shipping services such as ship management, brokerage, and finance and insurance services, but is also seen to handle port development and expansion, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The plan aims to stop the further erosion of maritime business to a more efficient Singapore, according to reports. The Hong Kong government has been censured for its allegedly poor support for the maritime industry that has caused ship owners to prefer Singapore where taxes are lower and doing business is easier.
Some industry watchers lauded the move, saying that with an industry veteran to run the new bureau, Hong Kong could still catch up. Rather than cutting taxes, local maritime players are pushing for the government to sign double tax avoidance treaties with South Africa and Australia, since these countries do a lot of shipping business with the territory.
But others felt Hong Kong has already missed the boat in brokerage services, because most of the leading ship brokers have been based in Singapore for some time now, and uprooting them would be almost impossible no matter what incentives are given.
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