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

Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) has informed 12 liner operators, including Maersk Line and HMM, that they are required to report data about empty containers and shipping routes between Vietnam, Europe and the Americas from January 2020 to the present day.

When contacted a spokesperson for HMM told Container News that the company’s representatives met MOIT officials this week, without disclosing more information.

The other 10 liner operators which have been notified are Mediterranean Shipping Company, COSCO, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, Ocean Network Express, Evergreen, Yang Ming, Pacific International Lines, OOCL, and Interasia Lines.

The MOIT is concerned that the shortage of containers, which has seen freight rates spike, is damaging Vietnam’s export competitiveness.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers stated that in October 2020, freight rates from Vietnam to the UK averaged US$1,420/TEU but shot up to US$10,550/TEU in January. Likewise, freight rates from Vietnam to Los Angeles soared from US$1,000/FEU to US$6,000/FEU in January.

Tran Thanh Hai, deputy director of import and export at the ministry, was quoted in local media saying, “As containers that headed to the European and US markets, where exports surged from the second half of last year, did not return in time, the rise in shipping rates of domestic and overseas shipping companies is appearing at an abnormal level.”

The MOIT’s move came after the Vietnam Maritime Affairs Administration formed a joint government investigation team in late February to probe the rapid rise in container freight rates and price fixing in the shipping industry.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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