Speech by STL at 11th APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting (English only) (with photos)
Thank you, Chair. I am very pleased to represent Hong Kong, China, to present our efforts to improve the functionality and resilience of supply chain.
The pandemic posed significant challenges to Hong Kong’s logistics operation. As a small and open economy, Hong Kong has always been adaptive to changes. It was no exception when we faced up to the challenges during the pandemic. The agility we had shown to uphold our logistics operation at the most challenging times was only made possible with our strong infrastructure, connectivity, technology and collaboration with other economies.
Most remarkably, the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) remained to be the world’s busiest cargo airport in 2021 and 2022, despite the fact that air passenger services in and out of Hong Kong almost came to a halt during the worst periods.
At normal times, the bellyhold capacity of passenger flights accounts for about half of the total air cargo capacity in and out of Hong Kong. Hence, disruptions of passenger flights indeed dealt a heavy blow to our logistics operation.
In response, the Hong Kong SAR Government and our industry players swiftly adopted special measures to cope with the challenges and accommodate market demands. For instance, riding on our well-established international flight connectivity, our airlines were among the first to redeploy passenger aircraft to carry cargo only, in addition to mounting additional freighters. The Hong Kong SAR Government also streamlined the application procedures for running charter all-cargo flights and facilitated the operation of additional freighters in and out of Hong Kong, while maintaining close communications with our aviation partners.
Together with our inherent advantages of premium geographic location and high efficiency as afforded by our top-notch infrastructure, the HKIA continued to contribute to maintaining the stability of the global supply chain during the pandemic. The HKIA has world class cold chain facilities, and all of its cargo terminal operators have attained IATA’s (International Air Transport Association) certifications for handling high-value temperature-controlled air cargo. The HKIA has also been recognised by IATA as a Partner Airport of its CEIV Pharma standards (Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics), enabling the HKIA to become one of the preferred airports for handling shipments of critical medical supplies, including vaccines, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment, during the pandemic to support the global efforts to fight against the pandemic.
Apart from efforts made on the "air", working hand in hand with our counterparts in the Mainland China, we also managed to maintain cross-boundary trucking on the "ground", despite the stringent quarantine measures in place back then. A "Sea Express" water transportation service from the Mainland China to Hong Kong was also launched. Under the "Sea Express" service, priority was given to safeguard smooth cross-boundary shipping operations between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. For instance, dedicated berths, supporting equipment and yard facilities were assigned for ships and trailers running dedicated routes.
Such collaborative efforts enabled Hong Kong to maintain stable supply of daily necessities even at the peak of the pandemic, while continuing to play a key role in upholding the global supply chains between manufacturers in the Mainland China and markets worldwide.
Coming out of the pandemic, we recognised the global trend of rising e-commerce business and the demand for flexible smart logistics services. Despite the shocks during the pandemic, we have always set eye on the future and have not slowed down. We took the opportunity to put in place real-time cargo data platform at the HKIA and set up a digitalised port community system. We have also continued to take forward projects to enhance our e-commerce cargo handling capacity at the HKIA, notably the expansion of DHL’s Central Asia Hub and the development of a premium logistics centre spearheaded by Alibaba Group’s logistics arm, Cainiao Network.
Last but not least, with a view to providing a new logistic channel and facilitating more efficient shipment of cargo between the Greater Bay Area and the world through the HKIA, we have pioneered a sea-air intermodal cargo transhipment mode between the HKIA and Dongguan, so that export cargo can be shipped from Dongguan by sea to the airside of the HKIA for direct transhipment to overseas destinations. International cargo can also be imported into the Greater Bay Area through the reverse process. While permanent facilities for such transhipment mode are being developed, we have wasted no time and started a pilot scheme using existing facilities since end 2021, thereby providing more diversified choices of logistics to shippers worldwide, and enhancing Hong Kong’s supply chain resilience against future shocks.
The pandemic gave us all a hard lesson. To Hong Kong, our quality of being agile and adaptive, as enabled by infrastructure, connectivity and technology, will remain to be our competitive edge when coping with future supply chain shocks. We also appreciate regional platforms, like APEC, to continue to foster collaborations among economies to further advance connectivity and to support each other at times of future shocks.
Ends/Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Issued at HKT 10:00
Issued at HKT 10:00