The Fifth Anniversary of the Nansha Free Trade Zone and the Six Transformations of the Nansha Port Area

The China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone Nansha Area of Guangzhou hung out its shingle officially on April 21, 2015, which started a new milestone of development for Nansha. In the past five years, relying on the construction of the Nansha Free Trade Zone, Nansha Port Area of Guangzhou Port has undergone rapid changes and progresses. Through years of development, Nansha Port Area has improved its business environment and optimized its service capacity as an international shipping hub, with more concentrated international shipping elements, and more solid port base. Totally 57 new international liner routes have been added, and Nansha Port Area has trading connections with more than 400 ports in more than 200 countries around the world, making Nansha Port Area a world-class port hub that drives the economic development of South China and connects the world. The progress of Nansha Port Area has been recognized and favored by clients and foreign trade liner companies. The reason for the international influence of Nansha Port Area is the following six transformations.

Transformations of Nansha Port Area Over the Past Five Years Since the Founding of Free Trade Zone

Transformation One: container transportation. 

From 2015 to 2019, the container throughput of Nansha Port Area has grown by over 1 million TEUs per year on an average basis; the throughput of foreign trade containers has grown at a double-digit rate on average. In 2019, the container throughput of Nansha Port Area reached 16.694 million TEUs, accounting for 72% of the total container throughput of Guangzhou Port, which has consolidated the status of Guangzhou Port ranking fourth in China and fifth in the world. Furthermore, this proportion has been increasing on a yearly basis.

Transformation Two: commercial vehicle business. 

Compared with the operation volume of commercial vehicles five years ago, in time of the founding of the Nansha Free Trade Zone, the current operation volume of commercial vehicles has doubled. In the past five years, the Nansha Automobile Terminal of Guangzhou Port has handled more than 4 million commercial vehicles, ranking second in China for three consecutive years. In the meanwhile, the policies of the Nansha Free Trade Zone, including customs clearance, opened up the customs sales channels for Nansha parallel vehicle imports. By the end of 2019, the parallel import car volume in Nansha had been close to 50,000 cars, which had made Nansha Port Area China’s second largest port for parallel import cars, only second to Tianjin.

Transformation Three: improvement of business environment. 

In recent years, the Guangzhou Port and the port authorities have worked jointly to create an international business environment, promote the normalization of the seven-day customs clearance in Nansha Port Area, re-gained the import qualification of fruits, and ensured the efficient operation of the Chilean cherry express line. A combined port model, centered on Nansha Port Area, is implemented within the Guangzhou Customs Area. When goods are imported and exported through Nansha Port Area, customs clearance may be performed at the hinterland terminal, which greatly facilitate the trade activities.

By increasing investment in information infrastructure, serving as the first smart port block chain platform for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Nansha Smart Port Blockchain Platform, was successfully launched, where 90% of container export orders in Nansha Port Area may be accepted and processed in an electronic manner, and the time required to process the export orders is reduced from 3 hours to 8 minutes; as the customs clearance platform and the maritime data sharing project are put into operation, such data can be shared between ports and maritime supervision and customs clearance inspections authorities, thereby greatly improving customer experience. The constant improvement of the business environment of Nansha Port Area are quite satisfactory to customers.

Transformation Four: infrastructure for development. 

By accelerating the construction of key port projects and consolidating the shipping business foundation, within five years, the Nansha Container Terminal Phase III has been built and put into operation by Nansha Port Area. In addition, Nansha Port Area has strengthened and expanded international trade and achieved rapid progress in domestic and foreign trade business. The annual growth of the Phase III terminal containers reaches nearly 40%; the Haijia Automobile Terminal was completed; as the largest single international cruise home port in China, the Nansha International Cruise Homeport was officially launched in November 2019, which has consolidated the status of Guangzhou Port ranking third in the domestic international cruise business.

At present, the projects under construction by Guangzhou Port Group in Nansha include such key provincial and municipal infrastructure projects as Nansha Phase IV, Jinyang Terminal, Nansha Grain Terminal Expansion, Silo Phase II, Nansha Shugang Railway and Nansha International Logistics Center. After these projects are put into operation, Nansha Port Area's container throughput will increase by 4.8 million TEUs, its vehicle throughput will increase by 600,000 vehicles, and its gain throughput will increase by 10.2 million tons, thus to greatly enhance the development potential of Guangzhou as a shipping hub.

Transformation Five: scale as an international hub. 

Nansha Port Area is featured by developed inland river networks of the Pearl River water system and connected deep-water seaports. It has unique advantages in terms of river-sea combined transportation and sea-rail combined transportation. Nansha Port Area is seamlessly connected to the three-dimensional transportation networks consisting of railways, high-speed railways, highways, and inland rivers, and has a high comprehensive transportation capacity. In the five years since the founding of the Nansha Free Trade Zone, the number of international liner routes in Nansha Port Area has been increased by 57. At present, there are 142 container liner routes in Nansha Port Area, including 110 foreign trade container liner routes, and 32 domestic trade container liner routes. With multimodal transport and its unique location advantages being as a transportation hub, Guangzhou Port has not only allowed the technology and capital of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to be benefited by the hinterland cities through Nansha Port Area, but also outputted the resources and cargo from the hinterland to various regions around the world, via Nansha Port Area. Nansha Port Area is committed to covering more regions along the “Belt and Road” and in Europe and America as well as more emerging markets, improving international and domestic transit capacity, and developing into an international shipping hub.

Nansha Port Area is currently cooperating with the world’s top 10 liner companies, such as Maersk, CMA, MSC, and COSCO Shipping. Its container liner routes cover major ports in China and the world, and trade routes are linked to more than 400 ports in over 200 countries. Nansha Port Area has developed into a container hub port operating the greatest number of shipping routes with the most frequent flights and the greatest number of ship-owners from South China to African countries.

Transformation Six: concentration of shipping elements. 

With the progressing modern shipping and distribution system, the growing shipping service capabilities, depending on the driving effect and improving business environment of the Free Trade Zone, Nansha Port Area has gradually formed the industrial cluster, centered on Nansha Port and consisting of portside logistics, portside industry and portside business & trade sectors, resulting in Guangzhou’s ranking up by two to the 16th place in the 2019 Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Center Development Index.

In the meanwhile, Nansha Port Area has been supported by the relevant policies of the Bonded Port Area and the Free Trade Zone in the development process and has achieved the integrated growth of the Port and Nansha. In 2019, the Guangzhou Port International Logistics Hub based on Nansha Port Area was included by the National Development and Reform Commission into the list of the first batch of national logistics hubs to be constructed. In addition, the developed shipping logistics of Nansha Port Area will effectively promote the further transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry in the Pearl River Delta.

Currently, Nansha Port Area of Guangzhou Port is deeply expanding its mutually beneficial cooperation with countries (regions) along the “Belt and Road”, and keeps optimizing an open and efficient port business environment. It has gradually become one of the world’s first-class ports in terms of cargo throughput, container throughput, smart port construction and shipping service capabilities.

New Development Momentum for Nansha Port Area in the Future

Nansha Port Area of Guangzhou Port is one of the few comprehensive hub ports operating with the world ’s largest container ships. At present, Nansha Port Area is building the first fully automated container terminal in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The terminal is creating the world's first single trolley automated quay crane, characterized by Beidou navigation driverless smart container truck scheduling, yard horizontal terminal layout, port area automated operation, by integrating new-generation IoT perception, big data, cloud computing, 5G and other advanced technologies as a whole. Therefore, such measures have offered a set of "Guangzhou-customized" solution for the construction and development of automated terminals. This technical solution is available for large-scale replication and promotion, and provides a high reference value for the reconstruction of the outdated terminal automation and the construction of the new automation terminal.

In addition, Guangzhou Port has built the Nansha International Logistics Center in Nansha Port Area. After its completion, the logistics storage capacity will be improved by more than 400,000 tons. It is by far the largest port-based refrigeration house in China. The project aims to develop into a comprehensive cold chain logistics base and a designated inspection center for imported frozen and refrigerated goods at Guangzhou Port, by combining bonded warehousing functions, cold chain goods display, auction, transaction, processing, sorting, distribution and other functions as a whole, depending on the trunk line transportation advantages based on port and rail integrated system.

By means of the construction of such key projects as the Nansha Port Phase IV and the Nansha International Logistics Center, Nansha Port Area will become the first automated terminal in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which will bring about a substantial improvement in comprehensive service capability and shipping hub function, with an expected throughput exceeding 22 million TEUs, thereby resulting in its ranking among the world’s top port areas in terms of single port area capacity. By then, Nansha Port Area will further optimize container capacity structure, and highlight the advantages from scale transportation effects based on the overall capacity promotion. It will provide strong support for promoting the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and ensuring the smooth running of the international logistics supply chain, thus implementing the national "Belt and Road" initiative more effectively.