Shanghai could overtake Singapore as the world's largest container port, with its throughput expected to grow 15 percent this year.
Chen Shuyuan, president of Shanghai International Port Group Co (SIPG), operator of China's busiest container port, said throughput will exceed 30 million TEUs in 2008, boosted by Yangshan port's third-phase expansion.
With container volume of 26.15 million TEUs last year on the back of over 20 percent growth, Shanghai surpassed Hong Kong for the first time in 2007 to become the world's second largest container port, behind Singapore.
Singapore remains the world's biggest container port with 27.9 million TEUs, up 12.7 percent.
SIPG also plans to invest about 4.5 billion yuan in expansion this year - excluding investment in the Yangshan project - with 2 billion yuan to be spent on adding berths. It's also considering an overseas listing, but doesn't have "concrete plans".
"It's not surprising we overtook Hong Kong, given the size of the mainland," Chen, an NPC deputy, said. "The ports in Hong Kong and Singapore have advantages in natural resources and better policies, and we still need to learn better technology and expertise on management and services from Hong Kong and Singapore."
Although there are signs of a US economic recession and anticipation China's exports will slow, Chen is upbeat on port growth this year. He expects foreign trade growth of 20 percent in the Yangtze River Delta region - higher than the 15 percent national average.
Chen said the port group may try to bring in foreign investors and strategic partners to help develop its container business, improve management and technology during Yangshan's third-phase development.
SIPG's deal with AP Moeller-Maersk Group to set up a venture to develop the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium is expected to produce results this year. SIPG will hold 40 percent of the venture.
It expects total cargo volume, including non-container traffic, to rise between 8 and 10 percent this year, Chen said.