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Taiwan outlines plans to remain transhipment hub

Taipei: Taiwan will work to consolidate the country's status as a major international shipping hub over the next five years amid the rapid rise of Chinese ports, according to a development plan unveiled this week by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD). The government will work to maintain Kaohsiung port as the world's sixth largest port and boost the volume of containers handled by domestic commercial ports to 17.9m teu by 2016, CEPD officials said.

Lin Chih-ming, director-general of the Department of Aviation and Navigation under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, said the volume of containers handled by domestic ports is expected to reach 10m teu this year.

Through the building of the sixth container center at Kaohsiung port, the government hopes to increase the volume to 15.7 million teu by 2011 and further to 17.9 million teu by 2016, Lin said.

CEPD officials said Taiwan's four international commercial ports, namely Keelung, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien, have maintained normal growth in terms of volume of cargo handled and cargo throughput, but there are signs showing that growth is slowing down.

Kaohsiung port remains the most important international commercial port in Taiwan, handling more than 50 per cent of the country's cargo volume, compared with 17 per cent handled by Taichung and 13 per cent handled by Keelung, the officials said.

Also, Kaohsiung handles more than 70 per cent of the country's containers, with 90 per cent intended for transhipment, they noted.

As China has set a goal to increase the container-handling volume of Xiamen port to 16m teu by 2020, Taiwan must make sure that it also makes progress to secure Kaohsiung port's status as the world's six largest port and even upgrade its ranking, they said.

According to Lin, Kaohsiung port handled a total of 9.47m teu in 2005 and is expected to see the volume further rise to 10 million TEUs this year.

Lin said the Dutch port of Rotterdam, which saw its container-handling volume expanding from 8.3 million TEUs in 2004 to 9.3 million TEUs in 2005, is currently Kaohsiung port's main competitor.

In the future, Kaohsiung port must be prepared for intense competition from Xiamen port, Lin said.

He said the first-phase construction of the sixth container center is expected to be completed in 2011, after which the container-handling capacity of Kaohsiung port will increase by 2m teu per year.  [20/09/06]

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