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Cargo activity beating targets at Shanghai's ports

Source:   Time:

  BEIJING, June 19(Xinhuanet) -- With the rebound of exports, Shanghai's cargo traffic is on course for a better-than-expected year, but uncertainties still remain because of the unstable state of global trade, a city official said yesterday.

  "Shanghai's yearly container turnover will be slightly above the 25.5 million TEUs target set at the beginning of this year," Shen Xiaosu, vice director at Shanghai Urban Construction and Communication Commission, said at a press conference yesterday. TEU stands for 20-foot equivalent unit, a measure of container capacity.

  The European debt crisis, controversy over the yuan's appreciation and concern over industrial overcapacity add up to uncertainty in the shipping market, Shen noted.

  Shanghai's container ports handled a total of 11.4 million TEUs in the first five months this year, an 18 percent jump compared with last year and slightly above the 2008 figure for the same period.

  The figure for the whole of 2009 was 25 million TEUs, an 11 percent drop from 2008 as the city's cargo and port operations suffered from the global financial crisis.

  The city's cargo throughput reached 208 million tons in the first four months this year, up 21 percent from the same period last year.

  "Shanghai will step up efforts to build the city into an international shipping hub by the end of 2020," Shen said.

  The commission has submitted a pilot program to the State Council to introduce tax refunds to exporters of dry bulk goods and containers departing from Qingdao, Shandong Province, and Wuhan, Hubei Province, who use Shanghai's Yangshan Deep-Water Port as a transfer hub. The trial operation is expected to begin soon, Shen said.

  "Our focus of the next step will be boosting the shipping service industry in the city," he said. "We'll set up a seaman evaluation center as well as complete the preliminary research work for a shipping brokerage system in the near future."

  There's strong demand for high-level seamen, said Hong Chong, vice director of Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration. "We have set up the draft regulations under the coordination of the Ministry of Communications to evaluate mariners' practical ability besides theoretical tests," Hong said.

  The city has also launched a program to promote waterway transportation to the Yangshan port. Since May, container goods that previously arrived at the port by highway have been transferred to Waigaoqiao Port and going to Yangshan through waterway.

  The State Council mapped out guidelines last year to develop Shanghai into a major international financial center and shipping hub by 2020, and encouraged the local government to start pilot programs to boost its shipping industry.


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