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CORRECTED: Singapore port remains world's busiest by shipping tonnage.

SINGAPORE, Jan. 13 Kyodo

Singapore's port retained its ranking as the world's busiest in terms of shipping tonnage last year, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Shipping tonnage, which refers to the total size of all ships arriving here, hit a new record high of 1.15 billion gross tons for the whole of last year, a 10 percent increase on 2004, the MPA said in a statement late Thursday.

''With this new record, the Singapore port is once again the world's busiest by shipping tonnage,'' Lim Hwee Hua, minister of state for finance and transport, said in a speech at a maritime industry event.

Singapore has held on to its status as the world's busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage since 1986, said MPA spokesman Simon Ang.

However, in terms of container throughput, Singapore has been rivaling Hong Kong for the top spot. Hong Kong enjoyed the biggest container throughput in 2004, and it is still not clear whether Singapore's port managed to pip Hong Kong last year.

According to the MPA, Singapore's container throughput rose to a new record of 23.19 million 20-foot equivalent units last year from 21.33 million in 2004.

Ang attributed last year's feat to ''improvements in terms of port and maritime services to remain competitive'' and to the ''the booming world trade and general trend of bigger ships being used.''

Port operations represent one of the major lifelines of the Singapore economy but it has been facing stiff competition from other ports that have been sprouting in Southeast Asia, offering cheaper rates.

In response, Singapore has been wooing shipping lines with discounted port dues.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Jan 17, 2006
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