Seoul summons liners as red-hot transpacific market worries exporters

With transpacific freight rates hitting extraordinary highs and shippers struggling to find slots on crowded boxships, the South Korean government has waded in, determined that carriers do not skip the peninsula in favour of neighbouring China. 

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries met with nine lines and the Korea Shipowners’ Association yesterday to warn that shippers were airing grievances that they were unable to export their goods. The nine companies summoned were HMM, SM Line, Korea Marine Transport, Sinokor Merchant Marine, Maersk Line, MSC, CMA CGM, Yang Ming and Cosco.

It is merely yield optimisation, and there is nothing wrong with that

“Any reported unjust contract violation or unilateral change in contract terms will be scrutinised and punished if necessary so that the market order can be maintained,” the ministry explained.

Andy Lane from Singapore container advisory CTI Consultancy told Splash today: “If a carrier has a contract with a shipper which contains specific service conditions, naturally those should be honoured – so that’s one thing. Otherwise it is merely yield optimisation, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

This is the second time this year the Korean government has stepped in to voice concern about the soaring freight rate environment on the transpacific. Counterparts in Beijing and Washington DC have also been keeping a close eye on the situation and have met with liner representatives too.

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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