The development of digitalized shipping services, economic initiatives and Pilot Free Trade Zone will push Shanghai to the status of an international shipping center by 2020.
It will thus compete with other established rivals like Singapore and Tokyo in the Asia-Pacific region, said officials.
The central government in 2009 set a target of developing Shanghai as an international shipping center in 2020.
The city will be allocated shipping resources on a global scale. This will help send goods from in and around Shanghai to many more destinations using shipping services. Soon, Shanghai will likely emerge as a key logistical part of the world’s supply chain.
Zhen Hong, secretary-general of the Shanghai International Shipping Institute, said trade via shipping services will help the finance integration of information technology and digital solutions into the industry. Shanghai’s share of high value-added shipping services will rise, thanks to the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Shanghai currently ranks sixth among the world’s top shipping centers like New York, London and Dubai, according to the Xinhua-Baltic Exchange International Shipping Center Development Index.
Its container throughput continued to rank first in the world, rising to 36.54 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, in 2015, while international container transfers were up at 2.53 million TEUs.
“However, we are aware there are many difficulties that need to be overcome,” said Zhen.
He said space at the port is scarce for future development, structural contradictions are obvious, while collection and dispatch systems need further optimization.
Besides, the highways-railways ratio is skewed with highways excessively large compared to railways, which could affect the city’s ability to reach its goal by 2020.
“As a shipping services cluster, Shanghai today is mainly focused on supporting Chinese shipowners and those who charter vessels. It has a successful mix of home-grown businesses and a growing number of international firms that have regional offices in the city,” said Jeremy Penn, chief executive officer of the London-based Baltic Exchange.
The next big step for Shanghai is to establish a competitive environment that attracts the head offices of global companies, and provide a standard of service that is comparable with the more established maritime cluster hubs of London, Singapore and New York.
There are currently nearly 1,700 international marine transport and related business units in Shanghai. The world’s nine classification societies have all opened branches in the city.