By year-end, the world's three largest liner operators, Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM will deploy a total of seven ships to transport containers from South Korea to the US West Coast, in response to South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries' (MOF) calls for more shipping capacity.
The first of these vessels was deployed from Busan on 25 November 2020 and six other ships will be despatched from December, adding to the extra loaders started by South Korean carriers HMM and SM Line.
South Korea’s Port Management Information System, non-South Korean liner operators carried 64,073TEU from the country’s ports along the Transpacific route in October, up 19.1% year-on-year. September’s shipments from the same carriers reached 59,657TEU, up 19.5% year-on-year.
South Korean shippers are experiencing difficulties with shipping costs, which have reached 10-year highs, caused by reduced capacity resulting from blanked sailings, the rising rates have also come to the attention of the US, Chinese and South Korean authorities.
On 12 November, the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, Moon Seong-hyeok, urged met the liner operators to provide more slots for South Korean shippers.
HMM has already transported 15,944TEU on its extra loader services between August and October.
It has been noted that rates for 40ft containers from South Korea to the US West Coast are around US$3,800/FEU, which is around 97% of rates to move similar boxes from China on the same route. This has caused non-South Korean liner operators to favour loading in China, leaving fewer slots for South Korean shippers.
Since September, foreign liner operators have been reserving more space on their ships to pick up Transpacific cargoes from South Korea. However, MOF is working with these carriers to provide more slots for South Korean shippers.