The port of Hong Kong has suffered two consecutive years of decline in container throughput.
In 2013, the port was paralyzed by a strike that impacted on volumes. In the first 11 months of the year, tonnage dropped by 4.2 percent to 20.36 million TEUs after dropping 5.2 percent last year, according to the Hong Kong Port Development Council.
Sunny Ho Lap-kee, executive director of the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, told the South China Morning Post that next year “may see still more negative growth.”
Contributing factors cited for the slide in Hong Kong’s port activity include the shortage of land and labor in the city that is providing transshipment handling difficulties and the anticipated exodus of more factories from the Pearl River Delta to low-cost countries like Vietnam.
But Ho also projects that the shift in manufacturing to Southeast Asia could bolster shipping between China, Hong Kong, and the rest of Asia.
On the other hand, early results from The Future of Shipping Poll being carried out by Maritime CEO show Singapore leading the pack for the title of most vibrant international maritime center in the coming five years.
About 60 percent of the hundreds of respondents polled have said that Singapore will be the most active shipping hub for the remainder of the decade, according to a report from SeaShipNews.
Shanghai is its nearest competitor, with London a distant third, indicate the initial results from the online poll, which closes in mid-January.
Meanwhile, the year 2014 is poised to be a better year for overall freight rates in the shipping industry as demand and supply will be more balanced, predicts RHB Research.
The research house said it expects the overall rates to improve by about 35 percent in financial year 2014 and 25 percent in financial year 2015.