A container ship sails under the Stonecutters Bridge near Kwai Tsing Container Terminals in Hong Kong on May 14, 2019. (PHILIP FONG / AFP)
Hong Kong maritime stakeholders signed two memorandums of understanding with their overseas peers and those from the Chinese mainland on Monday with the aim of enhancing maritime arbitration, talent cultivation and development.
The experts, who witnessed the signing of the memorandum at the Greater Bay Maritime Forum — one of the key activities of Hong Kong Maritime Week — also called for the establishment of a maritime business school to breed high-quality professionals for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, citing the industry’s “unlimited potential”.
The Hong Kong Shipowners Association, the International Chamber of Shipping and the Guangdong Provincial Shipowners Association signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in maritime development and training in a bid to bring new blood into the industry and expand the region’s talent pool
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At the forum, the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, the International Chamber of Shipping and the Guangdong Provincial Shipowners Association signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in maritime development and training in a bid to bring new blood into the industry and expand the region’s talent pool.
Another memorandum of understanding related to cooperation on international maritime arbitration was signed by several maritime arbitration groups, including the Guangzhou Arbitration Court of International Shipping and the Maritime Arbitration Center of Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration.
The one-week event, held by the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board for the fifth year, began on Sunday and will wrap up on Saturday.
In September 2020, China’s Ministry of Transport expressed support for an initiative to establish a Greater Bay Area international shipping business school in Shenzhen to nurture talents who have an international vision, and to align them with the industry’s development directions.
Ding Lei, vice-president of China Merchants Energy Shipping, said the Greater Bay Area, especially Hong Kong, faces a shortage of professionals in the shipping industry. He said that Hong Kong shipowners have to employ foreign crews, mainly from neighboring countries and regions, and the percentage of a ship’s crew that is not Chinese can be as high as 65 percent.
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In terms of cultivating maritime talents, Ding said that cities in Guangdong province are not as strong as some of their mainland peers, including Shanghai, Dalian and Qingdao.
Therefore, he said, the Greater Bay Area needs to set up such a school and train professionals for the industry if the region is to further unleash its potential in the shipping industry.
Noting the shipping industry is rapidly evolving with some emerging industries, such as green shipping and smart shipping, and it has higher requirement for younger generations who would like to join the industry, Ding said the region should have such a school to cultivate future professionals who meet the requirements.
Speaking in the same panel discussion session, Huang Nan, vice-president of COSCO Shipping Bulk, said that the cities in the Bay Area should work together to promote cross-border education and training.
Huang suggested the region establish a discussion and exchange mechanism to allow stakeholders, educators and students or trainees to better communicate and learn from each other.
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He added that the region has a shortage of cross-border professionals who know both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong well.
Sabrina Chao, president of Baltic and International Maritime Council, said in her keynote speech that the development of the Bay Area and a new era of increased prosperity of all of southern China is a turning point for the COVID-19-hit shipping industry.
If all bay area cities and stakeholders can work together, much closer integration will benefit the communities beyond immediate commercial benefits, as well as provide a much larger employment market for talented youth across the region, she said.
Looking ahead, Chao said he believes that the bay area will allow a better flow of ideas and cooperation between companies, universities and research institutions.
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