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South Korea’s Busan Port Launches First Automated Container Terminal

Port of Busan
Courtesy Port of Busan

Published Apr 7, 2024 8:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

South Korea’s Busan New Port has further extended its capacity with the launch of a seventh container terminal. The terminal’s opening ceremony held on Friday was attended by President Yoon Suk Yeol, who lauded the facility as a milestone in turning Busan Port into a world-class smart port and hub for global logistics.

The new facility is the first fully automated terminal in the country featuring remotely controlled ship to shore cranes built in Korea. The automated transfer of cargo from ships is expected to raise the port’s productivity by up to 20 percent compared with other terminals and significantly lower the risk of safety-related incidents.

The Busan New Port opened back in 2006 as older terminals at the Busan Harbor were unable to handle the exponential growth in trade at the key transshipment port. The development was carried out in phases, and the new port expansion is scheduled to last up to around 2040-2050. According to Busan Port Authority, the overall expansion project will cost $32 billion when completed.

Last year, container traffic at the Port of Busan hit a record 22.75 million TEU, representing a 3.1 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, President Yoon pledged to extend the tonnage taxation system ahead of its expiration at the end of the year. The tonnage tax is applied to shipping companies instead of ordinary corporate taxation, meaning companies pay taxes based on the net tonnage of their fleet as opposed to their profits. (Critics of the tonnage tax system argue that it is discriminatory as it does not uphold tax equity.)

South Korea reviews the tonnage tax system after five years, and the president’s guarantee to maintain it signals the government’s commitment to revitalize the domestic shipping industry. In this regard, Yoon also pledged $4 billion in government funding for national shipping companies to expand their fleet and aid in their green transition.