Five more Chinese ports can now allow access to overseas-flagged vessels entering China’s cabotage box shipping trade.
Tianjin port; Jiangyin Port Area in Fuzhou; Haicang Port Area in Xiamen; Mawan, Chiwan, and Shekou port areas in West Shenzhen port; and Nansha port in Guangzhou all now have the government green light to host coastal trade routes between them and other Chinese sea ports to ship containers deployed in foreign trade and carried by Chinese-owned or -controlled tonnage, according to plans disclosed by the Chinese state council on 20 April.
The extension of the easing cabotage trade rules comes after Shanghai’s Yangshan deepwater port received such government approval in September 2013, part of the opening policies being implemented in Shanghai’s free-trade zone, which will also be extended to similar zones in Tianjin, Fujian, and Guangdong.
However, it is yet to be known when the five additional ports will first be used by vessels that are favoured by the cabotage rule easing.
At Shanghai’s Yangshan port, the first batch of three qualified container ships did not set sail from the port until end of 2014, more than a year after the cabotage easing was introduced.
On 29 December 2014, Hong Kong-flagged COSCO Surabaya, owned by COSCO Container Lines, set sail with 895 teu of cargo from Shanghai port for Tianjin and Qingdao port.
International container carriers have been calling for the opening of Chinese cabotage trades for years, a plea echoed by China’s port operators.
Before the sailing of COSCO Surabaya, cabotage rules had not been eased because customs authorities faced difficulty dealing with container ships that were Chinese-owned, but not China-flagged, and that shared slots with overseas carriers.