• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Maersk Line spends $1bn on shipping empty containers in one year

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Maersk Line, the Danish shipping giant, says it spends an average of $1 billion annually to ship empty containers. The company, which sails close to 4 million empty containers annually, says the trade imbalance in the global markets that resulted to exporting empty containers in most import-dependent countries made it difficult to have immediate solution to the problem.

According to ShippingWatch report, Maersk Line spends $1 billion on shipping empty containers full of nothing from point A to point B due to imbalance in the trade between Europe and Asia. Here, many containers are returned empty to be filled with computers, shoes, or exotic fruits for European consumers.

“It’s a huge expense, and one billion is a good estimate. We are talking about more than two million containers to Asia alone, which have to be moved and handled by the ports,” says Niels Schermer, head of Maersk Line’s Equipment Flow.

Maersk Line, which controls 15-16 percent of the global container market, believes that the total expense for transporting empty containers for the entire sector is significantly bigger.

“This is why shipping companies needs to coordinate their container transport so that they can draw on each other’s empty containers, instead of transporting empty containers thousands of kilometres,” says Niels Schermer.

“We would like to find a solution, because, logically, it would mean saving lots of money. But it’s difficult with the system we have today. A portal, where all containers are registered, that would require an immense amount of coordination by all the participating shipping companies. We do believe it’s easier to control our own containers through our own network.”

Schermer, who noted that shipping liner such as Maersk Line need containers to be in good condition, also said it would be difficult to find out who has to pay if a container was damaged if such joint usage was thrown up.

“Recently, we met with two consulting houses, who have presented their solutions for us. This could be a in the form of a portal, which the companies would operate together, keeping their containers together, or it could happen by creating a global market where all containers would be similar, without a logo and owned by everyone,” said Schermer.