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Top: The busy container terminal in the Port of Xiamen. Bottom: The Xiamen Haicang Xinhaida Container Terminal, which officially opened its container line in September 2011. Photos Provided to China Daily
To promote its shipping, logistics and tourism industries, Xiamen, a special economic zone in East China's Fujian province, is laying the groundwork for a global shipping hub.
The establishment of the Southeast China International Shipping Center was initially proposed by the Fujian provincial government in 2010. The goal for the center is to gather important shipping resources and create a comprehensive shipping services system at the Port of Xiamen.
As Xiamen celebrated the 30th anniversary of its establishment as a special economic zone last year, the State Council released a report including guidelines for setting up an international shipping center in Xiamen. The central government also gave substantial support for the city's industrial transformation.
As planned, the center's core framework and services will be in place by 2020. By then, the shipping center will be able to deal with a variety of businesses, such as international transit, purchase, allocation and distribution, ship leasing, customs clearance, and offshore outsourcing.
Given the city's location on the western side of the Taiwan Straits, the shipping center will also strengthen ties with port cities in Taiwan, such as Kaohsiung, Taichung and Keelong, said Cai Liangya, director of the Xiamen Port Authority.
"The shipping hub will become the country's fourth international shipping center," Cai said. "Together with Shanghai, Tianjin, and Dalian, Xiamen will help enhance the country's shipping intelligence network," Cai said.
Sun Chunlan, Party chief of Fujian province, said building the shipping center is about more than just creating a world-class harbor.
"The project concerns regional development. The shipping center will not only involve shipping resources but also human resources, capital, technology and information," Sun said.
"In addition to the tertiary sector of the economy, secondary industry will also be spurred by the creation of the shipping hub," Sun said.
Preferential polices have been introduced to advance the process of building the international shipping center.
According to the Xiamen Port Authority, inbound imported cargo will be free of duties. Domestic cargo entering the zone will be designated as exports and relevant taxes will be refunded.
Companies that undertake the task of onloading and offloading a vast amount of goods from other provinces and regions will be rewarded.
The local government officials believe tax refund policies will attract more companies to ship goods in Xiamen and help the city further its goal of becoming an international shipping center.
Marking a significant step toward developing Xiamen into an international shipping center, the Xiamen Shipping Exchange officially became operational in June.
It has five major functions. In addition to serving as a platform for buying, selling and leasing ships, the exchange will act as a clearinghouse for shipping information and a provider of other services, such as cargo trading, personnel training, and trading agency services.
In terms of cargo transactions, the exchange has the advantage of being a specialized market that can handle high-end shipping and logistics companies, thereby allowing an advanced industrial chain of shipping services to develop.
Also in June, a maritime arbitration center was set up in Xiamen, which positions the city to serve as an international site for resolving disputes in world shipping.
As an important supporting project of the international shipping center, construction of the Xiamen Qianchang Railway Logistics Park commenced during the 16th China International Fair for Investment and Trade, which was held from Sept 8 to 11.
Other developments include the construction of the country's first large luxury cruise liner, a cruise terminal and a shipping business center.
At a cost of 3.1 billion yuan ($491 million), the 100,000-ton luxury cruise liner is an important component of the Southeast China International Shipping Center project, which is expected to draw a total of 16.73 billion yuan. Local leaders say that the cruise liner will be an essential tool for driving the development of the city's tourism industry.
All infrastructure facilities involved in the project are located in Xiamen's Haicang district. The district government recently announced that construction work for the headquarters of the Southeast China International Shipping Center will begin by the end of this year. The building is expected to be fully operational before 2016.
Upon completion, the headquarters will become the Port of Xiamen's inspection document processing center and command center as well as a site to house a cluster of shipping enterprises, according to the district government.
The efforts to build Xiamen into an international shipping center are expected to achieve initial results by 2015, and by that time, the cargo throughput of Xiamen port will reach 200 million tons and the container throughput will hit 10 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEU.
In the first four months of this year, Xiamen recorded a container throughput of 2.06 million TEU, up 11.82 per cent year-on-year and a throughput tonnage of 52.36 million tons, up 5.86 percent.
Last year, Xiamen handled 6.47 million TEU, ranking seventh among Chinese ports and 18th in the world.
The city currently has 81 berths that can handle vessels of all sizes, including 16 deep-water berths.
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(China Daily 09/20/2012 page10)