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Hong Kong: Offshore Business Sectors

Ship Management and Maritime Operations

Endowed with a deep-water, silt-free natural harbour strategically located along a major sea route and with the Chinese mainland providing a huge cargo base, Hong Kong has become a sea transport hub in Asia.

Advanced port facilities and efficient port services are complemented by excellent trade, financial and other services which underpin Hong Kong's status as the 10th largest trading entity in the world. The port handles 80% of Hong Kong's total external cargo volume. The shipping sector employs more than 25,000 people, and generates more than US$5bn in revenues annually.

Hong Kong is the world's busiest container port, and strong expansion of the southern China cargo base is expected to provide long-term growth of port traffic in Hong Kong, despite some diversion of ocean-going transhipment cargo and the competition from new ports in southern China.

Hong Kong's port facilities are financed, built, owned and operated by private firms. It is the only major port not run by a port authority.

Container throughput at Hong Kong was 14% lower in 2009 compared with 2005, but grew by 12.6% in 2010 to reach 23.7m TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).

Hong Kong is a major ship owning and management centre. Celebrating its 20th year in operation, the Hong Kong Shipping Registry announced in October 2010 that gross registered tonnes (GRT) on the HKSR crossed the 53.8 million gross tonnage mark, up from 44.9 million gross tonnes in January 2010. At the time, the Hong Kong fleet comprised of more than 1,600 ships, among which 1,541 were ocean-going cargo ships. This represented growth of more than 50% since September 2007.

By November 2011, the Hong Kong fleet had grown further, to 1,928 ships representing gross tonnage of 67.1 million tonnes.

In terms of tonnage, Hong Kong's merchant fleet is ranked in the same league as Greece, Japan, Norway, the US and China. The HKSR's high standards have also been recognised internationally and the registry is placed on the White Lists of the Paris MOU and the Tokyo MOU, and also Qualship 21 in the USA.

An increasing number of countries are seeking to privatise their port operation and/or develop new ports to be run on a commercial basis. An exportable sea transport service from Hong Kong is thus the development and management of ports in the Chinese mainland and the wider region. Hong Kong port operators are already active in this field. For example, Hutchison Port Holdings Group now owns, manages and operates container terminals in the Chinese mainland, the UK, Netherlands, Panama, Bahamas, Indonesia, Myanmar etc. It is the biggest independent port operator in the world, handling around 10% of the global container traffic.

In order to strengthen Hong Kong's position as an international shipping centre, the government has reduced merchant shipping registration fees and annual tonnage charges by 50%. Other improvements include simplifying the ship survey requirements, computerising ship registration procedures, negotiating double-tax agreements with major trading partners and reducing the tax burden on Hong Kong shipping companies. These measures not only aim at building up Hong Kong's register tonnage, but also to attract shipping companies to set up operations in Hong Kong to manage their ships. After 28 January 2000, Hong Kong-registered ships paid lower dues when they call at mainland ports.

Over the past 50 years, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association has grown into one of the world’s largest Shipowner Associations, its members owning, managing and operating a fleet with a combined carrying capacity of over 110 million deadweight tonnes.


Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

The tendering exercise for Hong Kong's Kai Tak cruise terminal project started in the fourth quarter of 2007. Bidders were required to propose a design that can provide flexible services to different cruise operators.

The terminal at the end of the former Kai Tak airport runway will have two alongside berths capable of accommodating the largest cruise vessels in the world.

The cruise terminal is being developed mainly under two contracts. The first is the site formation works contract, involving the construction of berthing facilities of the cruise terminal. The second is the cruise terminal building works contract, including the customs, immigration and health quarantine facilities and other supporting facilities.

Site formation works commenced in November 2009. The first berth is expected to commence operation in mid-2013. The second berth will be ready for berthing medium-sized cruise vessels in 2014. After relocation of submarine gas mains by the Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited and the completion of the subsequent seabed dredging, the second berth will be able to accommodate mega cruise vessels in 2015.

Construction of the terminal building commenced in May 2010. The terminal building is expected to commence operation in mid-2013. According to the Hong Kong Tourist Commission, the terminal building will be "iconic, highly functional and efficient for providing world-class services."



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