December 21, 2023
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Wednesday unveiled its Action Plan on Modern Logistics Development, outlining strategies to build a green and smart port, strengthen high-value-added maritime services and woo the brightest minds amid the city’s drive to enhance its status as a global shipping center.
The blueprint reiterates Hong Kong’s advantageous geographical location, unique institutional strengths, free economy and rich experience in international trade and commerce, stressing that the ultimate goal is to contribute to the country’s high-quality development.
The government will study the feasibility of providing green methanol and other clean energy refueling facilities for both local and ocean-going vessels, and is expected to announce the relevant action plan next year, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung told a press conference
In the nation’s new development paradigm, the drive for high-quality development, aimed at making the economy more innovative, efficient and sustainable, is the foremost task in building a modern socialist country by midcentury.
Among a slew of initiatives in the blueprint is the program to develop a green and smart port. The government will study the feasibility of providing green methanol and other clean energy refueling facilities for both local and ocean-going vessels, and is expected to announce the relevant action plan next year, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung told a press conference.
The government will also make use of the injection of HK$200 million ($25.5 million) into the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund to strengthen on-the-job training and continuing education programs with a view to enhancing the awareness of environmental conservation and sustainable development among small- and medium-sized companies’ employers and employees starting from 2024.
To improve the cargo handling process and enhance efficiency by promoting the digitization of the maritime industry, the authorities will complete a review of the port facility and license fees payable to the government by ocean-going vessels and river trade vessels.
Other measures include exploring additional tax concessions, competing for new cargo sources, streamlining the shipping registry and boosting cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
The plan comes as heightened competition intensifies among ports in the Pearl River Delta. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, more than 80 percent of the world’s freight volume is carried by sea. However, in recent years, the Chinese mainland has gradually relaxed its shipping rules, and implemented policy measures such as departure port tax rebate.
Last year, Hong Kong reported an annual throughput of 16.69 million twenty-foot equivalent units, down from 18 million in 2021. The city retained its position among the world’s top 10 container ports, but its performance can’t hold a candle to its peak a decade ago.
According to Lam, since Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po proposed the formulation of the blueprint for the maritime sector in his budget this year, the government has commenced the relevant work, including consulting industry players, and conducting a systematic analysis of the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s maritime and port.
“The action plan provides an important and clear direction for the development of Hong Kong’s maritime and port industries. We will work hand in hand with the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board to implement the strategies and recommendations in the plan, and take forward the various action strategies in phases with the stakeholders,” Lam said.
The government will also keep in view the progress and effectiveness of the strategies to ensure that they are able to meet the challenges and opportunities arising from market changes.