A Danish giant's decision to pull out of Kaohsiung is seen as a huge blow to the port's future as China gains ground.The existing Maersk contract expires in May, and workers at the docks actually struck this month in an attempt to get better severance pay. Maersk is strenuously denying that the decision has anything to do with its investments in China. But as this report observes:
The world's largest boxship player has denied it is abandoning its operations in Taiwan in order to concentrate on the growing Chinese market.
Maersk Line told TradeWinds that the decision to pull out of Kaohsiung Port was made as part of a global strategy, which considers each port as a "unique situation".
Tensions have been running high at Kaohsiung since APM Terminals handed over control of piers 76 and 77 to South Korea's Hanjin Pacific at the end of January.
The DPA report in the Liberty Times said Maersk last year stopped the lease on two of its four container terminals at Kaohsiung Port and would not renew the lease for the two remaining terminals when it expires. The reason being is the carrier aims to increase its investment in mainland's Port of Xiamen.The fall in the global ranking of Kaohsiung port is keenly felt in Taiwan, where international rankings on any scale are an object of much local anxiety. Another report adds (the graph below is from that report):
Ranked the world's third busiest container port in the 1980s, Taiwan's largest port has seen its container throughput decline from 10.3 million TEU in 2007 to 8.5 million TEU in 2009. Kaohsiung's demise in recent years has been blamed on the expansion of neighbouring ports, particularly those across the Taiwan Strait on the mainland.
Indeed, there is evidence that Kaohsiung's share of the East Asian container shipping market has gradually been eroded by the emergence of rival ports in the region over the past few years. The growth of China's port sector has surpassed that of Taiwan as manufacturers have shifted their focus to the Chinese market. The development of Chinese facilities has been aided, in large part, by government tax incentives and low labour costs, which have left their Taiwanese counterparts struggling to compete. As the island's largest port, Kaohsiung has suffered the brunt of the changes and, having been the world's third-largest container port in the 1980s, saw its ranking slip to 22nd in 2008.
World rank of Kaohsiung port in TEUs handled
Kaohsiung has been in a long-term fall-off as Taiwan's factories have moved to China. Another problem for Kaohsiung in maintaining its ranking is that other ports are coming online, including the new port of Taipei in Bali, and the port in Anping in Tainan, a satellite of Kaohsiung. Taiwan currently has seven international ports: Kaohsiung, Anping, Suao, Keelung, Taipei, Hualien, and Taichung. The ROC Yearbook for 2009 says that in 2008, around 74,000 ships visited Taiwan's ports, handling a total of 12.98 million TEUs. The Port of Kaohsiung handled 9.68 million TEUs of cargo, followed by Keelung with 2.06 million TEUs. Since Keelung is being phased out in favor of the new Port of Taipei, which is five times the size of Keelung, it is obvious that Kaohsiung's share of the island's container traffic (which has increased slightly even though Kaohsiung's traffic has decreased) will continue to decline.
Even More Daily Links
- A majority say they will vote for Hau over Su Tseng-chang if Su runs in December against Hau for Taipei mayor, but then a majority says they think Su will win.
- Ma's approval ratings now at 29 in pro-KMT UDN poll.
- China Times goes hysterical on climate change. No wonder the public doesn't know what to think.
- Taichungers: March 9 is the AmCham Taichung Happy Hour at Leble'dor Restaurant in Taichung, starting at 7
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