Zim Integrated Shipping Services has announced that it will become the next carrier to join the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) effective June 23, 2007, following a 45-day notification period required under US law. Zim’s entry to the research and discussion group of Asia-US container shipping lines brings TSA membership to 14 major lines.
‘We’re pleased by Zim’s vote of confidence in TSA’s new structure and the shift in how we engage with the shipping community to provide improved insight into market dynamics shaping the transpacific trade,’ said TSA chairman Ron Widdows, who is also chief executive officer of Singapore-based carrier APL Ltd. ‘We believe this new, more transparent approach, with growing carrier and shipper support, will enable shippers to better plan for their supply chain needs and carriers to more efficiently plan their services to meet those needs.’
Serving the US market from Asia faces growing challenges due to the stresses on the US transportation system, Widdows added. TSA, by providing timely information to help anticipate potential common problems ’ terminal congestion, labor negotiations, rail infrastructure and other concerns ’ will enable carriers and shippers to address short-term obstacles as well as long-term structural issues in the Asia-US freight market, he said.
Zim, based in Haifa, Israel and with regional headquarters in Norfolk, Hamburg and Hong Kong, operates a worldwide fleet of 100 vessels with a combined carrying capacity of about 240,000 20-foot containers (TEU), calling 180 ports. It offers five scheduled transpacific service strings, with additional intra-Asia feeder services, and is in the midst of a five-year, $2 billion program to build 20 new ships for worldwide service.
Zim joins TSA at a time when analysts and carriers anticipate robust cargo volumes in the 2007 peak season. TSA executive administrator Brian Conrad confirmed that, after a lull due to holidays in China and Japan in early May, utilization levels are again climbing. They are expected to reach mid- to high 90% levels by June, and remain at or above these levels throughout the peak season.
Precise results of the 2007 contracting season are still being evaluated as not all contracting has been concluded as yet, Conrad indicated. However, as predicted by industry analysts earlier this year, rates are moving upwards in this year’s contracts. Over the next few weeks TSA will be reviewing 2007 results, with the aim of determining revenue objectives needed in the coming year, for carriers to continue their investment in vessels and services.