© Yali Shi

HMM will reportedly downsize its container terminal operations in Kaohsiung port, in yet another sign of the Taiwanese port’s fading prominence.

The Loadstar understands that there are plans for HMM to return berths 118 and 119, operated by its subsidiary, Kaohsiung HMM Terminal, to Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) after the 27-year lease expired at the end of 2023.

The South Korean flagship carrier will continue with its Kaohsiung terminal operations with berths 76 to 78, which HMM took over from bankrupt Hanjin Shipping in May 2017. This lease was renewed in August 2023, with HMM agreeing to a 20-year concession. The berths, operated by another HMM subsidiary, HMM Pacific, can handle 640,000 teu annually, and as part of the agreement, TIPC is deepening the waters around the facilities to accommodate 24,000 teu ships by 2025.

When contacted by The Loadstar, HMM’s representative said that nothing has been confirmed regarding the closure of Kaohsiung HMM Terminal.

Kaohsiung processed 8.8m teu in 2023, down from 9.5m teu in 2022, but maintained its position as the 18th busiest container port. Its standing is a far cry from its heyday in the 1990s, when it was the world’s third busiest port as China’s economy was still in its infancy. Three decades later, the tables have been turned as Chinese trade and economy were liberalised, paving the way for China’s ports to grow.

Berths 76-78 are opposite berths 118-199 in Kaohsiung, meaning there are no efficiencies as ships operated by HMM and its THE Alliance partners cannot dock side by side.

HMM is said to have wanted to return either berth 118 or 119 early, after agreeing to take over berths 76-78, but TIPC reportedly refused, out of concern that it would be difficult to find another operator.

Besides Kaohsiung’s tumble down the port rankings, another indicator of its reduced fortunes came when Gemini Cooperation, a Maersk-Hapag-Lloyd alliance starting February 2025, omitted Taiwan’s main container port from its service line-up.

Listen to this clip from the latest episode of The Loadstar Podcast to hear Hapag-Lloyd explain Gemini Cooperation’s schedule reliability ambitions:

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