Instead of building Terminal 10 in the near future, Hong Kong should re-position its port to become an international trans-shipment hub by optimising utilisation of its existing infrastructure, shipping service development and human capital, Prof Liu Liming, Chair Professor and Head of Department of Computing and Decision Sciences at Lingnan University, said in his inaugural lecture on 25 October.
Based on the results of empirical and theoretical studies jointly conducted with other colleagues, Prof Liu pointed out that Hong Kong should not compete head-on for market share with other major ports in the Pearl River Delta, such as those in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Rather, Hong Kong should re-position itself to be primarily an international trans-shipment hub and strengthen its role as a high value-added shipping service centre. “Price competition would not deter the growth of the Shenzhen port. Expanding the capacity of the Hong Kong port by means of building a new terminal, for example, would not be effective either unless there is significant growth in the total demand from the hinterland,” he said.
He went on to examine the history of other leading ports around the world, such as New York, London and Tokyo, and concluded that increasing investment cannot counter the changing economic structure and its fundamental changes to the shipping industry. It is important to identify a port’s role in a system and opportunity for co-operation with other ports in the country or region, rather than to engage in head-on competition. It is also crucial to look beyond the horizon and re-invent itself by developing high value-added services and capitalising the network effect. “For these reasons, Hong Kong should co-ordinate with Shenzhen and Guangzhou so that each of their ports can focus on what is most suitable and profitable for them. Rationalising the use Hong Kong’s port resources is crucial to success. Hong Kong should also invest in the Pearl River system-based trans-shipment market by increasing our effective capacity for better barge service. Explore and develop the ocean-to-ocean trans-shipment market is important too,” Prof Liu said.