The Hong Kong government has announced plans to create an inter-departmental maritime body that will provide services great enough to rival London and Singapore.
Leung Chun-Ying, chief executive of Hong Kong, made the announcement in a policy address earlier last month.
Some port development and expansion is expected, but priorities lie on promoting shipping services. This will include ship management, alongside brokerage, financial and insurance services.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the plans come after a steady loss in trade to rival city, Singapore.
Shipowners have been making the move due to lower taxes and ease of operations.
Rather than follow Singapore’s lead and reduce taxing, the group has instead been pressing for double tax avoidance treaties to be made alongside long time service partners Australia and South Africa.
Speaking to SCMP, Sabrina Chao Sih-Ming, chairman of Wah Kwong Maritime Transport and a member of Hong Kong’s advisory Maritime Industry Committee praised the decision yet reiterated that the department will have to be flawless if it expects to make any leeway against Singapore:
“The new bureau needs to be run by an industry veteran who knows the industry from inside out.”
“It's not too late if we can act and catch up now.”
Yet, amidst the celebrations there are doubts that Hong Kong has already missed the mark to establish itself as an international maritime hub.
Head of transport at Bocom International, Geoffrey Cheng shared such reservations, saying: “Hong Kong is lagging behind Singapore for ship brokerage as most of the ship brokers have been based in Singapore for quite a long time” and as such it was unlikely that they would make a return no matter the improvements made.