Xiamen: Fujian, on the southeast coast of China, has always been an important shipping gateway for the country. The famous Chinese voyager Zheng He started his first voyage from Quanzhou in Fujian in 1405, opening a new chapter for the ocean shipping history of China.
As part of the plan to enhance the overall maritime power of the province, Fujian Provincial Communication Transportation Group merged the major shipping assets in Fujian and established Fujian Shipping Group at the end of 2014.
The new Fujian Shipping Group has integrated the three largest shipping companies in Fujian province, including Fujian Shipping Company, Xiamen Shipping Company and Orient Shipping Company and more than 40 medium and small sized companies with total assets valued at RMB5bn.
The group has become the top shipping group and crew management group in the coastal province with a fleet of 45 vessels.
Yang Jinchang, formerly the general manager of Fujian Shipping Company, has become the general manger of the new group. He is today’s Maritime CEO as well as the cover star of the latest issue of SinoShip magazine, which launches today.
“The total annual cargo throughput in Fujian is more than 300m tons, previously 90% of that figure is completed by shipping companies outside Fujian, but now the situation will be changed gradually with the establishment of Fujian Shipping Group,” Yang says.
According to Yang, the group has made clear business divisions for the three major shipping companies after the merger. Fujian Shipping Company now mainly focuses on bulk shipping, Orient Shipping looks after container shipping, while Xiamen Shipping has dedicated its business to passenger transport after transferring its bulker assets to Fujian Shipping Company.
“The integration of the shipping assets in Fujian has optimised the fleet assets in the province and enhanced our shipping capability,” Yang says, adding that Fujian Shipping Group has set a good example for the promotion of mergers and alliances in the local shipping industry to cope with the current market recession. Beijing has been pushing for far greater maritime mergers since the downturn kicked in.
In April, the Fujian Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has officially started operations, following in the footsteps of Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou.
The Fujian FTZ has been divided into three parts in Fuzhou, Xiamen and Pingtan with a total area of 118 sq km. One of the Fujian FTZ’s top priorities is to boost trade relations between mainland China and Taiwan.
Yang reckons the group is expected to benefit from the Fujian FTZ, and it is also planning to increase service offerings between China and Taiwan with its integrated container fleet. The group has been approved by the Ministry of Transport to operate direct container services to Taiwan.
Yang says a number of steel and power projects will start operations in Fujian soon, which will increase shipping demand substantially.
Currently Fujian has also been restructuring its port assets. Xiamen Port completed a major restructuring in 2014, which has integrated a number of port terminal companies. Putian Port Group was also established at the end of 2014 with the integration of the port assets in Meizhou Bay.
For the past few years, Fujian’s annual investment in ports has been about RMB10bn. According to a port development guidance released by the local government in 2014, Fujian plans to integrate all container shipping business into Xiamen port and Jiangyin port area of Fuzhou, dry bulk shipping into Luoyuanwan port area of Fuzhou and north of Meizhou Bay, liquid bulk shipping into Zhangzhou port and south of Meizhou Bay.
Yang believes the development of both the shipping and port industries will bring more upstream traders and suppliers and eventually accelerate the upgrade of the whole industrial chain.
“Speaking on this level, I think Fujian Shipping Group will become the pillar of the regional economy development,” Yang concludes.
Yang is one of a number of shipowners profiled in the latest issue of SinoShip magazine. The issue also contains in depth features on ship recycling and Chinese crews.