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Tue, Jun 19, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Shanghai set to overtake Singapore as busiest port

AFP , SINGAPORE

Shanghai is set to overtake Singapore as the world's busiest port next year as the Chinese economy continues with its stellar growth, an executive of the city-state's port operator said in remarks published yesterday.

Flourishing global trade has enabled Singapore terminals to handle a record number of shipping containers last month, but volumes in Shanghai are growing faster, Kuah Boon Wee (柯文偉), chief executive of PSA for Southeast Asia and Singapore, told the Straits Times.

"It's a function of their growth and China's exports are surging," Kuah said. "But even if we're not No. 1, we will still be a significant player in world trade."

Chinese state media said last month that Shanghai has overtaken Hong Kong to become the world's second-largest container port in the first quarter as containers handled rose 28.1 percent from a year ago.

In the first three months of the year, Shanghai Port processed 5.9 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) while Hong Kong handled about 5.5 million TEUs during the same period, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier.

Shanghai Port had been the third-biggest container port worldwide after Singapore and Hong Kong since the end of 2003. Its container throughput capacity has kept a growth rate of over 20 percent in the past three years.

Kuah said PSA Singapore Terminals moved a record 2.28 million containers last month on the back of robust global trade.

In the first five months of the year, PSA handled 10.79 million containers in Singapore, up 14.42 percent over last year, he said.

"Areas such as Eastern Europe, the Baltic area, the Middle East and of course China, all showed strong growth in trade this year," he said. "We have been working very hard to find ways to help customers make incremental growth in their business so that they will continue to increase their volumes here."

PSA Singapore Terminals is the flagship terminal of PSA International which is owned by state-linked Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings.

PSA International handled record container volumes of 51.29 million TEUs last year, 18.6 percent more than in 2005. Its Singapore terminals handled 23.98 million TEUs last year.

Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Harbor is expected to drop from No. 6 to No. 8 this year, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reported yesterday, citing Hsieh Ming-hui (謝明輝), director of the Kaohsiung Harbor.

Kaohsiung is currently the world's sixth busiest container port, but is likely to be overtaken by Rotterdam and Dubai this year, he said.

Between January and April, Kaohsiung's container volume grew 4.59 percent year-on-year, compared to the 10 percent and 23 percent growth of Rotterdam Port and Dubai Port respectively, Hsieh said.

Some industry analysts have blamed Taiwan's five-decade ban on direct sea links with China for the fallen container volume, but the government said it cannot lift the ban for national security reasons.

Additional reporting by DPA

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