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Taipei joins chorus to curb container freight inflation

The Taiwanese government has joined its counterparts in China, US and South Korea, intervening to cool the overheated container shipping market.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said on 18 December that its officials met representatives of all Taiwanese liner operators, on 1 December, hosted by Maritime Port Bureau (MPB), urging them to deploy more ships, whether owned or chartered, to provide more capacity to local exporters.

MOTC said, “During the meeting, liner operators were requested to increase shipping capacity and prioritise slots for Taiwanese exporters and shippers, while being transparent with freight charges to ensure stable slot and container availability.”

In response to exporters’ complaints that they could not obtain containers promptly, the MPB will act as an intermediary between exporters and liner operators to facilitate the smooth flow of goods, to maintain economic growth.

While many mainline operators have been accused of profiteering, MOTC said that Taiwanese liner operators have been providing more containers for local shippers than foreign carriers. From September to November, Taiwanese carriers’ export containers increased by 27% from a year-ago, while foreign carriers registered a 23% decline.

MOTC said, “In addition to requesting carriers to increase capacity by deploying existing ships, acquiring second-hand vessels, and chartering ships, we’re seeking to expedite the return of empty containers to accelerate container supply. We’ll continue to urge liner operators to increase the supply of containers to ensure that all exports can be shipped out in a timely manner.”

Acknowledging that increasing container rates are caused by market dynamics, MOTC called on liner operators to be fair and not opportunistic.

“Any increase in freight rates must be explained in detail to shippers, in accordance with the Fair Trade Law,” said the ministry.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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