Chongqing: Chongqing, the world’s largest municipality, is facing a new round of opportunities for shipping development, despite the current downturn in the market, reckons Tan Jianqiang, president of Chongqing Heniu Ro-Ro Ship Transportation, an integrated shipping company that provides container, bulk and roro shipping services on the Yangtze River, the third longest river in the world.
Tan says the economic influences from southwest China has been increasing in the past few years, the central government has also put the development of Yangtze River Economic Belt as one of the key focuses in the latest five year plan.
Chongqing, as the transportation hub in the region, has great advantages for shipping development.
“Currently Chongqing is making efforts to develop the city into an intermodal shipping hub for the upstream Yangtze River. Plans to upgrade the port terminals are also on the cards, which will facilitate the development of the industry,” Tan says.
Born locally, Tan grew up by the Yangtze River. He is a businessman with shrewd insight on the market. In 2000, he saw opportunities from the river level increase caused by the Three Gorges Reservoir and invested in a roro fleet to transport cars between Chongqing and Yichang. Tan registered the company in 2002.
Later he entered the coalmine business and also invested in a number of bulk carriers to transport coal, and then he decided to use the ships to transport iron ore, steel and fertilizers when he saw a downtrend in the coal market.
Today Chongqing Heniu controls a fleet of seven roro ships and more than 50 multipurpose vessels that can transport both containers and bulk cargoes, covering most of the major ports on the Yangtze River. Total capacity of the fleet is about 500,000 dwt.
“Thanks to the fast development of Chongqing Port, there is growing demand for roro shipping services. More and more shippers choose to ship their cars from and to Chongqing on the water instead of land,” Tan says.
In the first ten months of 2015, Chongqing Port handled a record of 209,000 cars, up 36.3% year-on-year.
Tan reckons one of the major issues in the market now is still overcapacity, and he admits the profit of the company has sharply declined due to the continued downturn in the market.
“In the current situation, we have done many measures including cost control and fleet optimisation to avoid from suffering losses,” Tan says.
Tan also invested in a shipyard – Heniu Fuxing Shipbuilding – in Yunyang, Chongqing in 2012, and the shipyard has delivered seven 7,500 dwt, 436 teu multipurpose vessels for Chongqing Heniu this year.
Tan is confident that the market will get better in the near future. “There are only bankrupt companies, but no bankrupt industry,” he says with optimism. “What is really important is that the company is ready when the market comes back.”