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HONG KONG: January 10, 2019. Hongkong International Terminals, Modern Terminals, COSCO-HIT Terminals, and Asia Container Terminals have announced plans to form a joint operating agreement called the 'Hong Kong Seaport Alliance'.

The Hong Kong Competition Commission has responded by opening, "as a matter of priority", an investigation into the proposal in order to determine whether it contravenes  the First Conduct Rule of the Competition Ordinance by preventing, restricting or distorting competition in Hong Kong.

Hong KongThe Seaport Alliance is a joint operating agreement designed to enhance the overall competitiveness of  port via a total of 23 berths and the use of a common terminal operating system. If approved, the four companies plan to begin services this year.

“The formation of the Seaport Alliance will further enhance efficiencies, increase utilisation and improve our overall service offering to customers,” said Gerry Yim, managing director of Hongkong International Terminals Limited. “The Seaport Alliance will ensure that the Port of Hong Kong remains a valuable contributor to our economy, both as an employer and as a facilitator of global trade,” he added.

The four companies say the proposed collaboration is in response to a rapidly changing business environment including the formation of new carrier alliances, carrier industry consolidation and the dramatic increase in vessel size over the last few years.

“The Seaport Alliance will improve the value proposition of Hong Kong to customers, while reducing emissions and enabling Hong Kong to more effectively compete within the region,” said Peter Levesque, group managing director of Modern Terminals Limited. “For almost two centuries Hong Kong has played a vital role in the facilitation of global trade. The Seaport Alliance, and the application of new technologies, will enable Hong Kong to thrive as an international shipping hub for decades to come,” he said.

The port and logistics sector accounts for 3.2 percent of Hong Kong GDP and provides more than 174,000 industry related jobs.

“The maritime and port industry is a major part of trading and logistics which is one of the four economic pillars of Hong Kong. We will work together to enhance the position of Hong Kong as an international shipping centre,” said Lawrence Shum, managing director of COSCO-HIT Terminals (Hong Kong) Limited.