South korea Trade Photo 118889644 © FootageLab

The Korean government has again intervened in the container shipping market amid rising concern that smaller shippers (SMEs) will be starved of slots during the peak season.

Every Korean liner operator is to mobilise all available vessels for nine transpacific and four South-east Asian extra loaders this month.

And, expecting tight shipping capacity to persist into the fourth quarter, HMM and SM Line, Korea’s only ocean-going carriers, will deploy at least six ad hoc transpacific sailings every month from October.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has directed flagship carrier HMM to double the number of reserved slots for SMEs on its transpacific extra loader services and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will increase capacity for Korea-South-east Asia sailings.

To make it happen, Korean feeder operators will be asked to operate Korea-Japan sailings jointly to free-up ships to cater exclusively for SMEs.

Ministries said last week the peak season had aggravated Korean exporters’ logistical difficulties.

Government incentives will also be available to liner operators with a year-on-year increase in export cargo to North America, Europe, and South-east Asia, the funds coming from port authorities.

Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines have also been asked to increase transpacific cargo flights, from 3,196 in the first half of this year to 3,300 in the second half.

By next nonth, the temporary storage area for containerised exports in Busan’s New and North ports will be expanded and a permanent storage facility will be built in the complex behind the New port within the year. In addition, besides the 60,000 containers ordered by HMM and SM Line this year, 13,800 boxes will be supplied this year.

From the end of this month, the Korean SMEs and Startups Agency will disburse loans to SMEs to cover rising logistics costs. Each SME can borrow up to around $850,000, with a five-year maturity at an annual interest rate of 2.65%. The Export-Import Bank of Korea will support this initiative with $25.4m.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Moon Sung-wook said: “We will continue to strive to resolve logistics difficulties by support measures such as securing ships and subsidising freight rates through the emergency response task force of related ministries.”

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