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Danish shipping giant Maersk Line will cut Hong Kong calls by more than 30% from April when it moves more business to the Nansha terminal, half way between Guangzhou and Shenzhen on the western side of the Pearl, according to the Shipping Gazette citing a South China Morning Post report.

“Nansha is able to offer competitive terminal handling costs on top of high service levels,” said Maersk’s south China chief Soren Karas, adding that trucking an FEU to the Shekou, Chiwan or Yantian terminals on the eastern side of the Pearl in Shenzhen would be US$160 higher from Zhongshan than if the cargo went to Nansha. “For Zhuhai, this jumps to US$200.”

The move hits Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Port and Modern Terminals hard, resulting in the near abandonment of Container Terminal 9, which has become near dedicated Maersk facility, reported the South China Morning Post. Also factored in is that Maersk’s port operator, APM Terminals, has a stake in Nansha’s Guangzhou South China Oceangate Container Terminal.

To this development, Modern Terminals corporate affairs manager Joel Cheung would only say: “This highlights the increased strategic significance of the western Pearl River Delta, which underscores the importance of Modern Terminals’ development at Da Chan Bay [on the eastern bank] near Shenzhen to support western Pearl River Delta growth. We look forward to continuing this partnership.”

Cutting calls by a third reduces Hong Kong to 47 turnarounds a month from 71, which has a corresponding impact on the 850 Maersk containerships that annually berth in Hong Kong, the SCMP noted.

Karas said Maersk intends to create a third major entrepot at Nansha to build on its established facilities at Shenzhen’s Yantian terminal and continuing services in Hong Kong.

The company, he said, plans to add three Asia-Europe services; two export and one import; one transpacific and one Far East-Middle East service. The vessels involved thus span a broad range from the somewhat smaller Africa vessels to some of our largest east-west vessels. The first new Nansha calls will start in April and most will be in place by the end of May.

Karas said Maersk has been sold on the growth potential of the western Pearl and its western Guangdong hinterland. Nansha will draw cargo that now moves through Hong Kong and Shenzhen from the western Pearl, arriving as transshipments by truck or barge. The Nansha facility would reduce the need for this, cutting costs for those operating from western Guangdong. –Source: Shipping Gazette

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