Port project to boost An­hui’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU LIXIN and FANG PING

Ma’an­shan on the Yangtze River plans to play a larger role in the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of An­hui prov­ince, the new­est mem­ber of the Yangtze River Delta re­gion.

In Shang­hai on Dec 2, Party chiefs and gover­nors from Jiangsu, Zhe­jiang and An­hui prov­inces and Shang­hai city, gath­ered for a sem­i­nar on the Yangzte River Delta, one of the coun­try’s most de­vel­oped re­gions.

The meet­ing marked the for­mal re­cruit­ment of An­hui into the union.

To con­sol­i­date its eco­nomic strength, An­hui has tried to make a bet­ter use of its wa­ter trans­port, a plan that matched China’s aim to in­crease its de­pen­dence on the Yangtze River.

The State Coun­cil re­leased a guide­line, on Sept 25, to pro­mote the Yangtze River eco­nomic belt into a new en­gine for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the whole re­gion.

The belt cov­ers nine prov­inces and two ci­ties, 20 per­cent of the coun­try’s land area and 40 per­cent of its GDP.

“The trunk river now sees an an­nual cargo through­put of more than 2 bil­lion tons, the largest among all the world’s in­land rivers,” said Zhang Xiaowen, chief en­gi­neer of the Trans­port Plan­ning and Re­search In­sti­tute of the Min­istry of Trans­port.

“Twelve ports along the river re­ported a cargo through­put of more than 100 mil­lion tons in 2013, but most of them are lo­cated along the river’s lower reaches,” he added.

The Yangtze River and its trib­u­taries boast a to­tal nav­i­ga­ble length of more than 70,000 kilo­me­ters, which makes it the ma­jor wa­ter trans­port artery be­tween west and east.

“Coastal prov­inces and ci­ties were the first to open to the world through the coun­try’s re­form and open­ing-up process, but a more de­vel­oped river trans­port sys­tem can of­fer in­land ci­ties equal ac­cess to the world,” said Wei Yao, mayor of Ma’an­shan.

China is home to seven of the world’s 10 busiest ports, but the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy’s lo­gis­tics per­for­mance only ranks 28th in the world, ac­cord­ing to the Lo­gis­tics Per­for­mance In­dex by the World Bank.

“China’s lo­gis­tics costs take up 18 per­cent of the coun­try’s GDP, while the per­cent­age of de­vel­oped coun­tries are as low as 9 per­cent,” said Zhang.

“China is now of­fer­ing var­i­ous eco­nomic ini­tia­tives to the world, in­clud­ing the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road. Con­struc­tion of ports along the Yangtze river will play a more im­por­tant role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the econ­omy,” said Ye Jian, head of the China As­so­ci­a­tion of Portof-En­try.

An­hui wants to take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties and took ac­tion in early 2012 to get ahead of other prov­inces.

The prov­ince fo­cused on the de­vel­op­ment of Ma’an­shan port, which bor­ders Nan­jing, the cap­i­tal of Jiangsu prov­ince, and is one of the coun­try’s ma­jor in­land ports.

Ma’an­shan port was one of the first ports to al­low di­rect sail­ing routes be­tween the Chi­nese main­land and Tai­wan.

In 2013, the port saw a for­eign trade cargo through­put of 11 mil­lion tons, 70 per­cent of the whole prov­ince’s to­tal.

The an­nual gross cargo through­put reached more than 75 mil­lion tons in the same year and is ex­pected to sur­pass 100 mil­lion tons soon. Ma’an­shan was es­tab­lished in 1956 and is known as a steel city. The Ma’an­shan Iron and Steel Group is the coun­try’s ninth largest steel maker.

Most of the cargo trans­ported to and from Ma’an­shan port is coal, iron ore and steel prod­ucts. The prov­ince is also home to sev­eral other large man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing ce­ment and car mak­ers.

After rapid eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of both the city and the prov­ince, the port no longer met the needs of the lo­cal econ­omy.

There­fore the prov­ince planned to con­sol­i­date its wa­ter trans­port strength by build­ing Zhengpu Port, a new port in Ma’an­shan.

Work started on Zhengpu Port in Jan­uary 2012 and it is due to be­gin op­er­at­ing by the end of De­cem­ber.

The port will be the last port along the Yangtze River to per­mit ves­sels with more than 10,000 tons of load­ing ca­pac­ity.

Con­struc­tion of three berths for ships of 5,000 tons, which con­sti­tute phase one of the port de­vel­op­ment, were fin­ished in early De­cem­ber.

Phase one also al­lows ves­sels of up to 20,000 tons to berth. Phase two of the project will han­dle ships of up to 80,000 tons and long-term plans in­clude con­struc­tion of 26 berths for 10,000-ton ves­sels.

The whole port project is ex­pected to in­clude to­tal in­vest­ment of more than 10 bil­lion yuan and will see cargo through­put ca­pac­ity of more than 100 mil­lion tons upon com­ple­tion.

Of Ma’an­shan’s 37.16 km­long river­bank, only 34 per­cent has been de­vel­oped.

“The Yangtze River wa­ter­course in Ma’an­shan main­tains a depth of more than nine me­ters all year round, which al­lows the pass­ing of ships up to 100,000 tons,” said Ji Xiang, deputy mayor of Ma’an­shan.

“The depth of the in­nerMa’an­shan wa­ter­course is un­sur­pass­able to the up­per reaches. It is in­deed a great ad­van­tage we can make use of,” he added.

The port project is ex­pected to help An­hui-based en­ter­prises cut lo­gis­tics costs by 30 per­cent, com­pared to send­ing goods to Nan­jing Port, and save much more, com­pared to send­ing cargo to Shang­hai Port, ac­cord­ing to Zhang. Con­tract the writer at zhulixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Ma’an­shan port, one of the busiest ports along the Yangtze River, is a Class A port open to for­eign ships. It was also one of the first ports to al­low di­rect sail­ing routes be­tween the Chi­nese main­land and Tai­wan.

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