Taiwan’s container shipping companies might post lower losses in the first quarter this year than the fourth quarter last year as they are deepening alliances to better control freight prices and transport capacity during a global slowdown, analysts said.
Wan Hai Lines Ltd (萬海航運), the nation’s third-largest container shipper, yesterday said it would jointly launch a new north China-to-Taiwan service with Sinotrans Container Lines (中外運集裝箱運輸), a major container shipping firm based in China.
The service is scheduled to commence today.
Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運), the nation’s largest container shipping firm by fleet size, announced on Dec. 27 that it planned to work with CKYH-the Green Alliance, which is comprised of several major Asian container shipping companies, including Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp (陽明海運), on routes between Asia and Europe from the second quarter this year.
Analysts have viewed these partnerships as moves by Taiwanese shippers to fight back against Maersk Line’s bid to dominate the global container sector.
“These partnerships may help container shippers avoid price destruction and let them control transport capacity more efficiently,” a Capital Securities Corp (群益證券) research team said in a report.
Since major container shippers started cutting the number of cabins and ship services in the fourth quarter last year, and with history showing that the Lunar New Year holiday usually drives up seasonal shipping demand in Asia, these partnerships would help the industry raise freight rates this month, Capital Securities said.
“This may help contract local shippers’ losses in the first quarter from the previous quarter,” the report said.
Evergreen Marine president Anchor Chang (張正鏞) said on Thursday that he was confident about the global container shipping market this year.
Chang said he expected global demand for container shipping this year to be higher than last year, adding that demand would be stronger in the second half than the first as the US economy recovers momentum and emerging market economies maintain their strength.
Share prices of local container shippers have also reflected these positive drivers.
Yang Ming’s share price jumped 6.78 percent, the maximum daily limit, to NT$12.60 yesterday, while shares of Wan Hai and Evergreen Marine rose 4.17 percent and 3.3 percent to NT$15 and NT$15.65 respectively, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.