Despite the global shipping slump, Huanghua port in Hebei province has reported steady annual increases in cargo and container volumes.
According to the latest data from the port, it handled a total of 130 million metric tons of cargo in 2012, an increase of 12.4 percent on 2011.
Coal throughput jumped by 5 percent from a year earlier to 105 million tons, accounting for 81 percent of its total cargo flow.
The figures represent a sound performance compared with the industry's national average growth, analysts said.
During the first 11 months of 2012, Chinese ports handled cargo volume totaling 8.9 billion tons, up 6.9 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Transport, but still a growth rate 7 percentage points lower than the year before.
Huanghua port saw two 400,000-container capacity terminals start operating at the beginning of 2012. They handled a total of 102,000 containers for the whole year - a record for new terminals in China.
By contrast, container throughput processed by all Chinese ports in 2012 jumped 8 percent from a year earlier to 146 million containers, a growth rate about 4 percentage points lower than 2011.
Officials at Huanghua attributed the solid performance to its key geological location, which can substantially reduce logistics costs for energy companies, steel makers and coal exporters based in China's coal-rich central region provinces.
The port has also implemented favorable policies to attract business and investment.
The local government has provided subsidies, depending on freight volumes, for shipping companies that chose to ship their cargo through the port.
And since Oct 1, 2012, it has also exempted trucks carrying containers to and from the port from paying expressway tolls in the province.
Zhang Xueqing, the manager of China Shipping Container Lines Cangzhou Co Ltd, said that the policies had made the port more attractive to many companies.
"Transporting cargo and containers through the expressway saves us a lot of time compared with using the railway. This also cuts our logistics costs as it reduces the waiting times for ships in the port."
Over the next few years, the port authority says it plans to continue tapping into the port's potential, by building it into a major regional logistics center.
The port is currently building a 3.76 billion yuan ($597 million), 58.8-km-long, 200,000-tonnage deep-water channel, which should be in use by the end of this year.
"This is only the start of a long journey," said Cangzhou Mayor Jiao Yanlong. "We will build Huanghua into a key national port by 2020."
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Zheng Jinran in Beijing contributed to this story.
(China Daily 01/18/2013 page16)