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            march 25, 2019

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Possibilities abound for container transshipment cooperation led by China


China and India could benefit greatly through port cooperation and allowing more of a free market to prevail in international shipping, according to a commentary by Harry Valentine published by Fort Lauderdale's Maritime Executive.
There is potential for future international cooperation in container transshipment between the transshipment ports of Vizhinjam in India and Colombo in Sri Lanka that combined offer the region space to berth fleets of ships at quayside with combined container storage capacity to undertake major transfers of containers.
Mega-ships would likely call at both ports on the same outbound and inbound overseas voyages. The main benefit of cooperation is to lower per container transportation costs, said Mr Valentine.
The author highlighted that cooperation between the ports of Colombo and Vizhinjam could provide the necessary market for larger containerships, especially if when following the completion of twin navigation channels, Suez Canal were to allow passage to larger containerships of up to 28,000 TEU. Carrying combined container loads on the Asia-Brazil service could warrant future development of containerships of up to 35,000 TEU.
China's development of the Silk Road initiative includes plans to build a ship canal across the Isthmus of Kra at Thailand to bypass the Strait of Malacca and reduce sailing distance to/from Europe.
By reducing China-India sailing distance, the Kra Canal development provides a basis for China and India to collaborate in international ship transportation to connect with their BRIC partner nations of Brazil and South Africa.
International transshipment cooperation could involve smaller containerships sailing from multiple ports of origin located east of Sri Lanka and converging on the nearby ports of Vizhinjam and Colombo to connect with mega-ships.
Combined port cooperation would provide additional space to berth a larger fleet of interlined ships, with increased combined container temporary storage capacity and with the mega-ship berthing at both ports to load export containers or to unload import containers. Such cooperation would have the potential to influence future ship design to reduce per container transportation costs over and above present technology.
The future twinning of the Suez Canal provides opportunity to encourage the Suez Canal Commission to consider allowing larger containerships passage through those channels. The 18-metre water depth at the nearby transshipment ports in India and Sri Lanka could berth larger containerships, as could port of Tangier and Louisiana International Gulf International Transfer Terminal (LIGTT).
International cooperation in container transshipment could fill larger future ships sailing between Colombo/Vizhinjam and Tangier.
Combined China-India trade could sail aboard future larger ships via Cape Town to a Brazilian transhipment port and possibly even into the Gulf of Mexico at LIGTT that is under development near New Orleans.
The close proximity of transshipment terminals ports of Vizhinjam and Colombo allows for cooperation in ship transportation while also accommodating local and regional political sensitivities. Ships may sail between the ports of Gwadar in Pakistan and Colombo to transfer containers destined for markets in Africa, South America, North America and Western Europe.
Ships may sail to ports of Vizhinjam or Colombo from ports in Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan and south China to transfer containers. While American tariffs could reduce transportation costs of China-made goods to east coast North America.
Mega ships destined for east coast North America and Brazilian ports could load transhipment containers at the ports of Vizhinjam and Colombo, carrying trade from multiple counties that include India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and other nations in the region. Transshipment would likely occur at North and South American terminals.
Smaller ships calling at the either of the future companion transshipment terminals to interline with mega ships and exchange containers, could also sail extended voyages carrying trade between smaller east Asian ports and east coast African ports. Cooperative transshipment would involve many sizes of containerships.
For China-Europe low-priority container trade, Hong Kong could evolve into a transshipment port for a future generation of mega ships that would likely sail the Hong Kong - Tangier and Hong Kong - Brazil services, with future expanded transshipment occurring at port of Tangier and port of Pecem in Brazil.
Combining future trade destined for the east coast North America from both China and India on a single ship, along with trade from other nations in the region, could warrant the regular operation of a mega ship of 18,000 to 23,000 TEU on the Asia-Suez Canal-eastern Canada service, Shipping Gazette reported.

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