De­ci­sive moves needed to re­vi­tal­ize ship­ping in­dus­try

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

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.

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