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Maritime shipping sails into agenda

Updated: 2013-11-29 07:45
By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Maritime shipping sails into agenda
The Yangshan port area in the Shanghai free trade zone. A shipping insurance association is being organized there as the city seeks to become a global shipping and logistics center. [Photo / Xinhua]

Developing maritime shipping may become a national strategy in 2014, a senior government official said at a forum in Shanghai on Thursday.

Song Dexing, director of the water transport department of the Ministry of Transport, said the ministry has submitted a proposal for developing maritime shipping as a national strategy for review and approval to the State Council, China's cabinet.

The Ministry of Transport has been researching the development of port hubs, improving shipping systems for commodities and cooperation between railway transport and water transport, said Song.

"The proposal looks to provide long-term solutions to boost the sea shipping industry in China including restructuring shipping capacity, setting up a special capital fund for phasing out old ships as well as cutting taxes for shipping companies and their employees," said Song.

China's shipping industry has been suffering amid the global gloom for shipping companies since 2008.

Slow economic growth and the shifting trade strategies of various manufacturing industry owners have led to excessive supplies for international shipping by sea, said Zhang Ye, president of the Shanghai Shipping Exchange.

"Amid the not-so-thriving times, the shipping industry may use multiple tools to hedge risks and seize opportunities to grow - and effective and fair top-level designs are extremely important for the healthy development of China's shipping industry," said Zhang.

Experts and market insiders are calling for innovative management and investment in the shipping sector to strengthen support for the real economy.

Since the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone was launched on Sept 29, shipping companies and regulators in the city have been conducting research into solutions to improve shipping, said Yuan Jiarong, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Urban-Rural Development and Communications and deputy director of the Shanghai International Shipping Center Municipal Promotion Office.

Compared with its shipping hub competitors including Hong Kong and Singapore, Shanghai is yet to mature its shipping enterprise cluster, fleet development and high-end shipping services, said Yuan.

"The free trade zone program enables Shanghai to try out some pioneering systems including more open investment management and leaner administration processes," said Yuan.

Zhang, the president of the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, said the exchange is to introduce the trading of derivatives for the international ocean dry bulk shipping price index.

"In the future financial institutions will play increasingly important roles in financing shipping enterprises for business expansion. Also, investment in the e-commerce of the shipping sector, perhaps the only virgin territory within the e-commerce arena, will significantly increase information-sharing within the shipping sector in China," said Zhang.