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Vietnam popular with shipping world

Vietnam popular with shipping world

Hanoi: In the early weeks of this year - in fact ever since Vietnam joined the World Trade Organisation on January 1st - there has been a headlong rush to clinch new deals, partnerships and joint ventures in the booming Asian state. A number of announcements in February indicate that foreign firms believe there are rich pickings to be had in Vietnam's fledgling shipping sector.
    Most of the world's leading port operators, including APM Terminals, DP World, Hutchison Port Holdings and Singapore's PSA are busy establishing their presence. Only three weeks ago HPH announced a deal with Saigon International Terminals to establish a deepwater container terminal at Ba Ria-Vung Tau capable of berthing two post panamax box ships simultaneously and with a likely throughput of more than 1m teu a year.
Such developments are welcome. According to senior NOL executives quoted earlier this week in Asian press reports, the relatively poor quality of Vietnam's infrastructure could put a brake on the country's development. GDP grew by 8.2% in 2006 but is expected to rise again this year. However, the lack of water depth and infrastructure at key terminals is limiting feeder links to other mainhaul Asian ports and is delaying the chance of direct calls by global carriers.  
    However, Vietnamese ports are not the only marine sector to cause a blip on foreign radar screens. Norwegian class society DNV recently signed a deal with the Vietnam Register to co-operate in a range of areas including training, certification and the quality approval of locally manufactured components.
    Vietnam's shipbuilding industry has, of course, already caught the attention of foreign firms. South Korea's Hyundai was first off the mark, moving in to set up a joint venture with the country's Vinashin. But recently, other firms are muscling in. Norway's Aker Yards is taking a majority stake in a new yard at Vung Tau, focusing on offshore vessel construction, whilst Dutch firm Damen has signed a deal with Vinashin to establish a $40m yard at Hai Phong. On completion in 2009, the yard will build offshore vessels, tugs and high-speed vessels.
    Marine equipment suppliers are not to be outdone, however. Earlier this week, Sweden's MacGregor Group clinched a deal with Vinashin to build a production plant for hatch covers and cargo access equipment. Vinashin will hold a 51% stake in the new venture, to be sited in Haiphong.  [12/03/07]

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