South Korean shipping line HMM has hit back at suggestions by AP Møller-Maersk CEO Søren Skou that the European Commission should investigate state aid for some lines, saying that the unprecedented crisis requires government to support industry.
At a Maersk press conference on 13 May Skou said it was unacceptable for South Korean and Taiwanese governments to help their national lines “when the global container industry is hit by the coronavirus pandemic.”
HMM, however, responded today claiming, “Under the unprecedented crisis led by the spread of Coronavirus, all supportive measures taken by the Korean government focus on preventing the collapse of its major industries including shipping sectors.”
The spokesman went on to say that the desperate economic situation means that it is inevitable that government will create supportive measures for its industry.
“We also need to deal with supply chain stabilisation to mitigate negative impacts in terms of international trade. A number of factors might be considered on this matter. HMM will only concentrate on what we can do for our valued customers based on the seamless cooperation with THE Alliance members,” added the source.
In response, the EC said yesterday that it was aware of the state aid from Seoul to its industry. The source went on to say, “The Commission is committed to addressing these concerns through different tracks. The European Union (EU) actively promotes the revision of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, notably those related to subsidies.”
Meanwhile, the HMM source said that it is “inappropriate for us to give you related comments on it, as we are not aware of the policy in detail. However, the Korean government plan recently announced for HMM is largely aimed for the maturity extension of our current loan.”
In April HMM took delivery of the first of a dozen 24,000TEU container ships that were ordered from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries. While in February the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Moon Sung-hyuk, told HMM’s President and CEO, Bae Jae-hoon, that the company needed to improve its performance.