BREAKING NEWS: South Korea Carriers Sign National Shipping Alliance
The Korea Shipowners’ Association has engineered a consortium among South Korea’s 14 container carriers. A memorandum of understanding to create the Korea Shipping Partnership (KSP) was signed in Seoul today.
Under the agreement’s terms, the carriers will share cargo capacity, add new shipping routes, and jointly manage overseas shipping terminals. Operational guidelines for the alliance are scheduled to be released by the end of this year with a launch of operations soon thereafter.
The Korean shipping industry has been suffering since the demise of Hanjin Shipping, once the world’s seventh biggest container carrier. Hanjin declared bankruptcy last year and was liquidated.
Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), currently the world’s 15th-largest container carrier has also experienced financial troubles but has managed to stay afloat with the help from the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB). Hanjin’s financial situation was so egregious that KDB was not able to bail the carrier out.
HMM appears to have yet to turn a corner, has its first quarter 2017 financial results showed the carrier lost $652 million, up from $245 million last year. HMM is banking on the KSP alliance to help improve its balance sheet. It also has an arrangement with the 2M Alliance, which comprises Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company.
HMM is reported in discussions with the 2M carriers over whether it should focus its business on the US trades. The company expects a shortage of container carriers on the high-traffic routes from August to October during the US peak shipping season from Asia. Maersk and MSC also serve US routes.