HONG Kong's Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has called for the city to attract more high-quality maritime businesses, adding that it is keen to maintain its international shipping centre status despite unprecedented headwinds, reports HK's SCMPost.
Speaking at the World Maritime Merchants Forum in Hong Kong, the SAR leader said: "The Hong Kong SAR government endeavours to attract more high-quality maritime businesses to Hong Kong and, in turn, develop an even more vibrant maritime services cluster.
"Thanks to long-standing advantages, such as our friendly business environment, tax regime, the rule of law, world-class infrastructure and abundant professional talent, Hong Kong will continue to serve as the businesses and logistics gateway between the mainland and the world."
Shipping is the lifeblood of Hong Kong's economy, Mr Lee said. "This connectivity and now deepening integration with the mainland will create fresh opportunities for Hong Kong and for the economies and companies that work with us."
Port of Hong Kong, one of the world's busiest, has been hit hard by the outbreak of Covid-19 and a slowdown in global economic growth. In the first 10 months this year, it handled 13.88 million TEU, down by 6 per cent year on year, according to Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board.
Kwai Tsing, the city's largest terminal, handled 0.96 million TEU in October, a decline of about 20 per cent compared to last year. October was also the 11th straight month of decline in container throughput.
At the same forum, Miao Jianmin, chairman of China Merchants Group, said: "Economic globalisation and the stability of the international supply chain are facing some challenges. There may still be many hidden crises under the appearance of the prosperity of the shipping industry.
"At present, the shipping cycle is not only affected by conventional factors such as macroeconomics, industry and market demand, but also ??unconventional variables such as geopolitics, the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain restructuring."
Furthermore, Mr Miao warned: "It greatly increases the difficulty of controlling the current operating rhythm of the shipping market. How to accurately grasp the operating rhythm in this extremely complex market environment is a matter of life and death."
A Maritime Services Traineeship Scheme will be rolled out next year to provide training for young people who aspire to a career in maritime services, while a second round of tax concessions, for ship managers, ship agents and shipbrokers, has been implemented this year.
"The Hong Kong SAR government will continue to proactively uphold Hong Kong's strength by further developing our high value-added maritime services," the Hong Kong leader said.