Business / Economy

Port sails into a brighter future

By YANG ZIMAN/ZHANG YU'AN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-23 09:46

Guangzhou Port will open up 15 new international routes this year in response to the government's call to strengthen construction as part of the "One Belt, One Road" initiatives.

Yuan Huahui, deputy director general of Guangzhou port authority, said a three-year development plan is being formulated to expand the capacity of the port, integrate resources and enhance services.

"We have 22 sister port cities in Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia. This year we are going to open 15 additional international routes," Yuan said.

Fifteen port cities in China have been mentioned in the "One Belt, One Road" initiatives, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Ningbo.

"Taking advantage of the 'One Belt, One Road' initiatives, Guangzhou Port has all the elements needed for transforming itself into an international port," Yuan said.

Guangzhou Port is already connected with the hinterland regions of Guangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan by the Pearl River network. Highly developed industries such as heavy equipment manufacturing, automobile production and shipbuilding have put Guangzhou in a key position in port construction.

The fourth largest in China, Guangzhou Port is made up of four ports along the Pearl River. It has maritime transport with more than 400 ports in 100 countries and regions across the globe. The top 20 container ship companies in the world do business at the port.

In 2014, the freight throughput capacity in Guangzhou Port was 500 million tons, ranking it fifth in the world.

"By 2020, the throughput capacity of Guangzhou Port will be 560 million tons with 25 million standard containers," Yuan said.

Nansha Port, the one that reaches furthest into the South China Sea among the four ports of Guangzhou, is located in the southern tip of the newly established Nansha Free Trade Zone. It is the only deep-water port on the west bank of the Pearl River. It has 16 deep-water harbors that are able to hold the largest container ships in the world.

"Almost all the largest container ships have made a stop at Nansha Port," said Cai Jinlong, board director and vice-president of Guangzhou Port Company Ltd, a State-owned enterprise that takes up around 70 percent of the business in Guangzhou port.

In 2014, the 170,000 tonnage container ship Madison Maersk, one of the largest container ships in the world, made a stop at Nansha Port. Guangzhou Port Company Ltd invested in the construction of a series of wharfs in the past decade. At the moment, the port has begun its third phase of construction, including two 70,000-ton, four 100,000-ton and 24 2,000-ton container berths.

Total investment has been 7.5 billion yuan. It will add throughput capacity of 5.7 million standard containers every year to the port after completion, up 86 percent from the current throughput capacity of the first and second phase construction.

The fourth phase construction in Nansha Port is being planned. Four 50,000 to 100,000-ton containers berths are going to be built from 2016 to 2018 with a total investment of 4.9 billion yuan.

"Our goal is to build 50 deep water harbors in the port," said Cai. "Now we have completed 16 of them. Another six will be completed by the end of this year."

Chen Jianhua, mayor of Guangzhou, is just as bullish about the future. "Guangzhou has been an international port for more than 2,000 years, which is very rare in the world," Chen said.

"Four words can be used to capture the advantages of Guangzhou in the modern day Silk Road: ancient history, a busy port, a thriving business center and the time-old capital city of Guangdong. Guangzhou have a good tradition of embracing people from the rest of the world. This is an important reason that the city has maintained its glory."

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