HONG KONG is expected to lose its No 5 ranking on the busiest box port league tables if trends continue, reports Bloomberg.
Until 2004, Hong Kong was the world's busiest container port as it served as a conduit for cargo moving in and out of China, said the report.
But cargo through in the city dropped for a second straight month in November, making Hong Kong the only container port among the world's top five to report a slow-down.
South Korea's Busan, ranked sixth, has narrowed the gap and is expected to surpass Hong Kong in 2018, said Rahul Kapoor, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
But China has since expanded capacity at its ports, making it possible for larger ships to start direct services to major cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen.
"The hollowing of manufacturing activities in Hong Kong has been the main driver," Corrine Png, chief executive officer of Crucial Perspective, a specialist in Asian transportation equity research.
"Hong Kong faces stiff competition, mainly from the Chinese ports, especially as the Chinese have been investing heavily in port infrastructure in recent years and working on improving their operating efficiency."
Hong Kong handled 18.97 million TEU in the first 11 months of 2017, 6.4 per cent more than a year earlier. That is below the 8.3 per cent increase for Shanghai and 9.1 per cent growth in Singapore.
Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong, has been expanding its capacity as it serves as a major port for exports of goods manufactured in factories in southern China. The city's harbour is the world's third busiest after Shanghai and Singapore.
"There's a general trend of increased direct services to China, so there's reduced demand for transshipment in Hong Kong," said Victor Wai, an analyst at Drewry in Singapore. "For Busan to overtake Hong Kong, it will be because Hong Kong is losing its volume."
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