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Seoul extends state aid to more local lines

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.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


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