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Taicang reaps benefits of sea port status

18 December 2013
Taicang’s new status as a sea port has reduced shipping costs and improved efficiency for users, according to a report by China Water Transport published on 13 December.

The terminal, located upstream of Shanghai, was approved by the central government to be managed as a sea port as of 1 January, allowing ocean vessels carrying the Chinese flag to sail into the Yangtze without piloting. This eliminates various related costs, ranging from contacting a shipping agent, requesting piloting service via the agent to an official pilot finally coming on board the vessel. The whole process of piloting, which continues to be compulsory if vessels sail beyond Taicang, adds at least two days travel time.

Taicang’s new status also means that visibility requirements are less stringent. The terminal can continue to open for business unless visibility falls below 1,000 metres, rather than 1,500 metres for other Yangtze ports. In the meantime, the number of expert risk assessments for the same ocean vessel required for anchoring in Taicang is reduced, cutting costs and time delays for shippers.

According to Li Zhe, head of the Taicang branch of Shanghai Zhonggu Xinliang Shipping, one of the major private shipping operators in the area that operates about 40 regular container routes, the unit price on the popular service between Taicang and Guangzhou has reduced by nearly 30 per cent to Rmb1,200 per container this year and to Rmb500 at the lowest. “The piloting fees alone saved the company Rmb1.2m, a very welcome saving for us in the current challenging climate,” he was quoted as saying.

Last year, Taicang’s container throughput exceeded 4m TEU, ranking it first (excluding Shanghai) among all ports on the Yangtze.

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