Dalian: As a percentage of GDP maritime accounts for more of the Dalian’s wealth than mighty Shanghai. The northeast city lives and breathes shipping – as any visitor can attest. For a number of years the Liaoning metropolis has been trying to position itself as a shipping hub for northeast Asia – it is not there yet, facing severe competition from nearby Tianjin and Qingdao at home and Busan across the Yellow Sea. However, it is a force to be reckoned with.
On the ports front, the city handles just about every cargo imaginable and in containers can claim to be the fastest growing major Chinese port this year with year-on-year growth at a stunning 25.9% in the first 10 months. Dalian ranks seventh in both containers and overall cargo among Chinese ports. Seventh might not sound like much, but were it to be in Europe it would be considered one of the continent’s largest port cities.
Xu Song, general manager of Dalian port, tells Maritime CEO that the year at the port has actually been mixed, with containers and oil strongly up, but products and grain slowing down. Currently Dalian port operates one of the largest crude oil terminals and the largest LNG terminal in China, with annual handling capacity of 80m tons and it is the most important distribution centre for oil products and liquid chemicals in northeast China. The port also runs China’s fastest growing automotive terminal. A new automotive terminal is set to start operating in 2015 with an annual capacity of 800,000 vehicles.
“In the current overall depressed shipping market situation, it is essential to find new growth areas. We have attracted more than 100 automobile related manufacturers making investment here and gradually formed an industrial cluster which has made a tight connection of port, trade and logistics,” Xu says.
In the wake of Shanghai launching its pilot free trade zone many ports in China including Guangzhou, Xiamen, Tianjin and Zhoushan are all planning to follow suit. Dalian is biding its time however.
“Currently we already have a bonded port area, but we will keep a firm eye on the development of the newly formed pilot free trade zone in Shanghai, and learning experiences from there,” Xu concludes. [27/11/13]