Decisive moves needed to revitalize shipping industry
of registration fees. However, the money has not been allocated directly to the Marine Department and the Shipping Registry. Obviously, if these authorities did not have enough financial support, the quality of global services for the registered ships will be adversely affected. Eventually, ship owners would “vote with their feet” and choose other places.
Therefore, it is necessary for the government to put the revenue taken from shipping back into the sector. This includes direct distribution of revenue from levies such as ship registration fees and port charges, increasing manpower to relevant authorities and reforming management practices. Besides, given a continual downturn in the international shipping market, if the government could strategically provide local shipping enterprises with timely assistance through a preferential tax policy, it would undoubtedly ease their operational difficulties and enhance international competitiveness.
The government should also focus on the future, attract and encourage local and foreign ship owners and ship operators to establish regional headquarters or operation centers in Hong Kong.
Talent is the foundation of an industry. A serious bottleneck in the development of Hong Kong’s shipping industry is a shortage of human resources.
The government had set up a HK$100 million Maritime and Aviation Training Fund in 2014 to modify the existing training and scholarship programs for professional and technical talents.
This is a good start. But there is still room for improvement in terms of enhancing the shipping industry’s “soft power”.
The government should actively consider introducing concessionary policies to create a favorable environment to attract global talents from the high-end shipping services sector to work in Hong Kong. It should also pay attention to nurturing local shipping talents and formulate policies to encourage local youth to join the industry.
Such policies may include strengthening promotion of the industry in secondary schools to let more students have a better understanding of the function and contribution of the shipping, logistics, ports and high-end shipping services to the economy and trades. In the meantime, through policy guidance and capital investment, the government should enhance the teaching standards of existing high schools and vocational schools.
While the government should carry on the good policies, it should also formulate a long-term plan for overall development of the shipping industry as soon as possible and actively play its role in leading the industry to consolidate Hong Kong’s status as an international shipping center.