Photo: Maersk Press Materials

Maersk conducts 1st international relay shipments in China

The recent loading of 27 containers from Vancouver onto Maersk's ‘Merete’ vessel was the 1st batch of Chinese coastal relay of international cargo from a foreign carrier. The containers are now on the last leg of their ocean transport, en-route from Shanghai’s Yangshan terminal to Tianjin. Maersk has pointed to the move as being a milestone in China’s opening of its cabotage market to foreign carriers.

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In a statement, the Danish shipping giant said it was proud to be the first foreign company to successfully implement international cargo relay in China.

Maersk believes the transshipment in Shanghai will allow it to improve services through optimised networks, and that it could also address some of the factors behind the bottlenecks in Chinese supply chains, shortening transit times, reducing emissions and freeing up additional capacity for our customers.

The company’s CEO, Søren Skou, added that he appreciates this initiative by the Chinese authorities, which he believes is an important step towards optimising relay regulations. Skou also hopes it will serve as an inspiration for change in places where restrictions on international relay still exist.

As Maersk explains, the breakthrough in Yangshan is a result of the China State Council’s 2019 overall plan to boost the development of the international shipping center in Shanghai. In November 2021, China’s Ministry of Transport announced that international cargo relay would be allowed on a trial until the end of 2024. Based on third country reciprocity conditions and meeting several additional criteria, qualified carriers can use its owned vessels to carry out international cargo relay between Shanghai Yangshan and northern Chinese ports, including Dalian, Tianjin and Qingdao.

In China, international cargo relay shipments between two Chinese ports have historically been considered cabotage and therefore strictly prohibited for foreign carriers. Instead, these carriers use Busan, Singapore and other international ports for transshipment.

Maersk says the initiative can also strengthen Shanghai’s role as an international maritime center, with more throughput and revenue occurred. The shipping giant believes network optimization and shorter transit time will also reduce the CO2 footprint of the ocean transport involved.