SOME of the world's biggest exporters in Asia are intervening to alleviate a shipping container shortage that jeopardise their overseas trading.
Government-owned Indian Railways has moved empty boxes to inland depots like Delhi from seaports for free.
South Korea has deployed an extra nine vessels on the Trans-Pacific route to help local manufacturers while China's state-owned shipyard Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry, has converted at least one freshly built paper-and-pulp carrier to transport the containers, reports Bloomberg.
The state-backed companies and governments are working quickly to smooth disruptions on the supply side of global trade to avoid losing business, even as clogged ports like Los Angeles trigger import delays and freight costs remain high. Asian economies remain deeply reliant on exports to Europe and North America to line government coffers.
Simon Heaney, senior manager of container research at Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd, said; “The state has a far bigger role within shipping in Asia, with equity stakes in numerous shipping lines, shipyards and terminals. That influence is much less prevalent elsewhere in the world.
"The best thing governments can do is ensure rapid and effective vaccination of their populations so that landside logistics labour capacity and productivity can be restored to pre-pandemic levels," said Mr Heaney. "That will do a lot to improve the circulation of containers."
Indian Railways is discussing if its current 25 per cent discount for moving empty containers inland along some routes needs to be extended beyond March, according to Manoj Singh, executive director for freight traffic and transportation.
The carrier offered free carriage at least twice last year and hasn't ruled out waiving all charges again when it reviews the situation at the end of the month, he said.
But even countries less reliant on exports than powerhouses like China or South Korea are looking at ways to unclog global trade arteries.
The UTLC Eurasian Rail Alliance reduced tariffs last April for transporting empty containers via its Europe-China link.