Lowe’s Companies Inc.’s director of international transportation, Todd Zaninelli, is among a growing number of leading North American import executives who see Port of Nansha offering time and cost savings for shipments from South China’s industrial core.
“Overall, we see an increasing amount of volume creeping away from Shenzhen and around to the west side of the Pearl River Delta,” Zaninelli told the American Journal of Transportation. “We see there being an opportunity for ocean carriers to differentiate themselves by using Nansha in a rotation for direct U.S. West Coast and East Coast calls.”
Indeed, even without a direct container service yet in place to the U.S. East Coast, the Guangzhou Port Group and its Port of Nansha have quickly ascended to No. 7 ranking among world ports as measured by container volume, with a 2016 throughput of nearly 18.9 million 20-foot-equivalent units.
Nansha is being promoted as the fastest-growing container port in the South China, with its TEU count up 8 percent last year from 2015, while Hong Kong’s TEUs dropped 2.7 percent and Shenzhen container activity slipped 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s port, ranked No. 5 worldwide, with almost 19.6 million TEUs handled in 2016, is now within Nansha’s striking distance in the rankings, while Shenzhen, with 2016 volume of just shy of 24 million TEUs, is cemented in the No. 3 spot.
Direct U.S. East Coast service, via the expanded Panama Canal, is not far off for Nansha, according to John L. Painter, president and chief executive officer of the port’s North American arm, Wyckoff, New Jersey-based Guangzhou Port America LLC.
Port of Nansha currently offers more than 50 worldwide liner services to a total of about 100 countries, according to Painter, who pointed out that four weekly sailings directly link Nansha with the U.S. West Coast, including ports of Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach, Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Two of those sailings carry boxes of the 2M Alliance of Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co., Painter noted, while carriers participating in the other two weekly voyages include CMA CGM, China COSCO Shipping, United Arab Shipping Co. (now part of Hapag-Lloyd), Wan Hai Lines and “K” Line.
Lowe’s Companies’ Zaninelli, who orchestrates the global supply chain for the world’s No. 2 hardware chain, with $65 billion in annual sales and nearly 2,400 North American stores, said the addition of direct U.S. East Coast service should round out the attractiveness of Port of Nansha for beneficial cargo owners utilizing port diversification strategies.
“I’d push to get East Coast service,” he said from Lowe’s Companies headquarters in Mooresville, NC.
In terms of Nansha’s advantages, Zaninelli pointed to the fact that many of South China’s factories are considerably closer to Nansha – on the west side of the Pearl River Delta – yet significant cargo volumes continue to be moved by truck and barge over to Shenzhen and Hong Kong, both of which are on the river delta’s east side.
“I think there is more volume being trucked and barged to the east side of the Pearl River Delta than people realize,” Zaninelli said, adding that trucking adds cost while barging adds cost plus as much as a week in transit time, yet ocean rates via Nansha are typically the same as those for other ports of the South China region.
Painter said drayage from many South China factories to Nansha costs between 30 percent and 50 percent less than trucking to Hong Kong or Shenzhen and can be accomplished in as few as 20 to 30 minutes compared with two hours or more to Hong Kong or Shenzhen. This allows some vendors’ truckers to make multiple daily dropoffs and pickups at Nansha.
Zaninelli said he believes Port of Nansha is “still in its infancy,” but, as borne out by the impressive statistics, it is no longer a well-kept secret. Nonetheless, the Nansha facilities – featuring three terminals providing a total of 16 containership berths spanning 18,750 linear feet – remain uncongested and afford abundant opportunity for growth while already having accommodated vessels as large as CMA CGM’s 18,000-TEU-capacity Benjamin Franklin.
Painter commented, “As carriers and shippers start their pre-peak planning discussions, Port of Nansha has seen an uptick in volumes and commitments from BCOs [beneficial cargo owners] who are planning to load early at Nansha to avoid congestion and the possibility of being rolled via the Shenzhen and Hong Kong ports.”
Port of Nansha is a key part of state-owned Guangzhou Port Group Co. Ltd., established in 2004. APM Terminals and COSCO Shipping are co-investors. The heavily commercial city of Guangzhou, traditionally known as Canton, lies about 50 miles up the Pearl River from the island-based Port of Nansha in Guangdong Province.
The Guangzhou government is financially committed to making Port of Nansha even more appealing.
Port of Nansha looks to further benefit from a $415 million project that is widening its approach channel to better accommodate two-way passage of mega-containerships and the development of on-dock rail facilities, as well as an automotive logistics park to include the port’s fourth and fifth roll-on/roll-off berths. The port already is China’s No. 3 hub for automotive shipping, behind only Shanghai and Tianjin. Also beyond containers, Guangzhou Port Group offers South China’s largest grain terminal.
Products manufactured proximate to Nansha on the west side of the Pearl River Delta include appliances, furniture, electronics, toys, ceramics and apparel and footwear.
In addition to Lowe’s, companies with cargo moving through Port of Nansha are listed as including Target Corp., The Home Depot Inc., Ace Hardware Corp., Bob’s Discount Furniture, Ashley Furniture Industries Inc., Dollar Tree Stores Inc., Applica Consumer Products Inc., Whirlpool Corp., Rona Inc., Mohawk Industries, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Toshiba Corp., Samsung Group, Seiko Holdings Corp., Mattel Inc., Hasbro Inc., Cotton On Group, Etam Lingerie, Fellowes Brands, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Ford Motor Co.