Fresh from lavishing national flagship HMM with $5.4bn in state funds, newly incorporated Korea Ocean Business Corp has set aside a further $122m for four more local shipping companies in a move that will exasperate counterparts in Europe.
Korea Line Corp, SK Shipping, H-Line Shipping and Polaris Shipping are the recipients of the latest funding from the state-run maritime financing vehicle, designed to get local companies to order ships on home soil.
South Korea’s government funding of its hard-pressed lines and yards has provoked stern rebukes from Europe. Last Friday, SEA Europe and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the trade associations representing respectively European shipbuilding and maritime equipment and European shipowners, issued a strong joint statement against Seoul.
ECSA secretary general Martin Dorsman commented: “The South Korean reform plan is greatly concerning for the European shipowners and shipbuilding industry. These measures create an uneven playing field, hamper the free and equal access to international maritime transport and contribute to the global overcapacity. Part of this plan is also the support to secure stable cargoes for Korean flagged vessels, which is a flag reservation measure of a particularly protectionist character. At a time that protectionist trends are rising, we ask Europe to send a strong message in support of free, fair and rules-based trade.”