Protectionism a real risk in China

Shenzhen: Watch out for creeping protectionism in the Chinese shipping sector, a top shipping consultant has warned.

“Protectionism will intensify,” said Tom Behrens-Sorensen from Navisino (Beijing) Advisors at TPM Asia in Shenzhen.

Formerly with Maersk for 30 years Behrens-Sorensen is one of the most respected shipping consultants in China. He warned international delegates contemplating business in China: “Don't expect an equal playing field.”

At the start of July the president of the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, Zhang Ye, said that the transport ministry is mulling restrictions on foreigners shipping Chinese cargoes as well as giving tax benefits to local owners.

The ministry may require Chinese cargo be transported only by domestic shipping companies, Zhang said in an interview at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai. The transport and finance ministries are also discussing tax benefits for the industry, he said.

"Those are temporary measures by the government," Zhang said, as the industry faces a "very bad situation".

"They are against market rules from a long-term perspective, but acceptable on a temporary basis," he said.  [18/10/12]

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