Maersk claims China’s first international freight coastal stopover by a foreign shipping carrier, marking a “significant milestone” in China’s opening up of its cabotage market to foreign carriers.
The relay involved 27 containers from Vancouver, Canada, which were loaded onto the container ship Merete Maersk for transshipment from Shanghai’s Yangshan Terminal to Tianjin, Maersk said.
In China, international relay cargo shipments between two Chinese ports have always been considered cabotage and therefore prohibited to foreign carriers. Carriers instead use Busan, Singapore and other international ports for transshipment.
But in 2019, China’s State Council launched a plan to boost the development of the Shanghai International Shipping Hub, and in November 2021, China’s Ministry of Transport announced that the international cargo relay would be licensed as a trial until the end of 2024. Under certain conditions and criteria, qualified carriers can use their own vessels to carry out international cargo relays between Shanghai Yangshan and ports in northern China, including Dalian, Tianjin and Qingdao.
“We are proud to be the first foreign company to successfully implement international freight forwarding in China,” said Soren Skou, CEO of AP Moller – Maersk. “Transshipment in Shanghai allows us to improve services through optimized networks and could also solve some of the factors causing bottlenecks in Chinese supply chains, by shortening transit times, reducing emissions and freeing up additional capacity for our customers. We appreciate this initiative by the Chinese authorities. This is an important step towards optimizing relay regulation, and we hope it will serve as inspiration in other geographies where restrictions on international relays still exist.
Maersk says the international hub can help strengthen Shanghai’s role as an international shipping hub, with more throughput and revenue generation opportunities. “Network optimization” and reducing transit time can also help reduce the carbon footprint of shipping, according to Maersk.