Hong Kong is planning to create a new transport bureau to enhance its status as an international maritime and logistics hub.
The proposed governmental move coincides with news that the city has fallen out of the top five maritime cities in the world, according to the annual report by Menon Economics and DNV.
The 2022 report puts Hong Kong in seventh position, the top five rankings now occupied by Singapore, Rotterdam, London, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Hong Kong’s maritime policies are currently controlled by the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), which critics say leaves the logistics industry overshadowed by the city’s acute need for housing.
Under the new proposals, the bureau will be split in two, creating the separate Transport and Logistics Bureau, a move welcomed by industry stakeholders, given Hong Kong’s consistent decline in container port rankings over the past two decades.
The Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Association said all its members support the re-organisation. It said: “In the past few years, housing issues have become a high priority for the Hong Kong community and have taken up most of the resources from THB.
“Splitting THB … is very important for both sectors as the government can properly allocate dedicated resources to address relevant issues in a more effective manner.”
Sunny Ho, executive director of the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, said managing two separate industries was “far too big” for one bureau. He told The Loadstar: “The industry has been calling for this for far too long, which regrettably has been blocked due to political issues.”
He added: “The challenge for the new bureau is to enhance Hong Kong’s functions as a logistics, shipping and air freight hub. For example, it needs to make sure the city stays on top of new developments of accelerated adoption of technology, smart logistics and supply chains, diversification of manufacturing bases, e-commerce booms, RCEP, BRI and the Guangdong-HK-Macao Greater Bay Area.”
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s logistics community also has more pressing matters to deal with, following the city’s latest round of flight bans, due to Omicron fears –despite strict quarantine rules for passengers already in place.
The constantly changing restrictions are making life very difficult for Cathay Pacific, with the latest seven-day quarantine for cargo pilots and crew reportedly creating “mayhem” for flight schedules.
Gary Lau, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding & Logistics, explained: “Airlines have made substantial reductions to their long-haul cargo capacity through to March, due to a lack of manpower. Cargo flights are reduced substantially and the airfreight capacity is extremely tight, resulting in surge of logistics costs by 30%-40%.”