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Asian container lines mull revamp to South American services

Tokyo: Three leading Asian carriers are re-considering their arrangements on the East Coast of South America to Northern Europe trades, Seatrade Asia online can reveal.

K Line, China Shipping Container Line (CSCL) and Evergreen were all vessel providers as part of the EUSA service (along with Argentine carrier Maruba) that started up in April, 2007, but was aborted in April, 2008 after what one carrier called "a debacle".

One line manager said of EUSA: "It didn't have a chance, as all the better contracts were already tied up with the existing carriers like Hamburg Sud, Maersk Line and MSC. It was a bloodbath really for the Asian carriers and Maruba."

But now CMA CGM and Maruba have joined services in a new SAFRAN service (with the first sailing from the Brazilian port of Santos on December 25) and so the Asian carriers are facing a dilemma.

Although they still have slots with MSC and on CSAV's Euratlan service, they  might not be sufficient to handle their needs, particular in terms of reefer plugs.

CMA CGM says it is launching SAFRAN to service the needs of the growing reefer exports (especially chicken and beef) from both Argentina and Brazil. The Asian carriers, particularly K Line, is understood to be keen to take a share of this profitable box trade.

Under current arrangements with CSAV and MSC, K Line is continuing with 300teu of slots per week, Evergreen with 150teu and CSCL with around 100 slots, but this might change in the near future.

In fact there are strong market rumours ?" in both Europe and Brazil ?" which are suggesting that the carriers might be about to launch a new service of their own in the near future or become a vessel operator in SAFRAN as well.  [18/12/08]

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