Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Old and Not So Old

The new (container ship) and the old (fishing boat) of Hong Kong sailing past each other. For a while they are there side-by-side. It is fitting that the new is coming while the old is going in the opposite direction.

Fishing is of course still alive in Hong Kong. It is actually a pretty big business. This boat in the picture is too small and can only fish in nearby waters. An ocean-going trawler is 40+ meters long, with 3 engines, costing 6 million dollars. Each fishing trip takes weeks. Just the fuel and other supplies for one trip costs at least 300,000 dollars. Imagine how much fish does one boat have to catch just to break even. There is enormous risk involved and only people with deep pockets can survive.

In the global scale, however, even this style of fishing is small business. Modern fishing as practised by countries such as Japan, Norway, etc., is more akin to manufacturing, in terms of scale, sophistication, and organization.

Container shipping and so-called logistics is not new to Hong Kong, of course. It has contributed tremendously to the prosperity of Hong Kong in recent years. Whether it is the future for Hong Kong is debatable.

Hong Kong has no natural resources and must rely on its people. A well-educated and creative work force is the best competitive advantage.

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