Australian shippers are benefiting from improved shipping services in the Western Pacific.
Despite the highly competitive shipping atmosphere between Australia and Asia, new sailings and extra vessels have been introduced - with more to come.An Australian shipping official commented: "From a shipper's point of view, the shipping scene has rarely been as good. And there is every indication that it will get even better."
Government-owned Australian National Line indicated that for the rest of this decade it will be concentrating on improving and expanding services between Australia and Asia.
ANL has two ships under construction at the Samsung yards in South Korea for service between Australia and Asia.
The first vessel, Australian Endeavour, will be delivered in May. The second ship, Australian Endurance, will be delivered in July.
Both will be 45,000-dwt. containerships. Each will have capacity for 2,700 containers, including 600 refrigerated boxes.
The large refrigerated space reflects the growing trade in beef, particularly with Japan and South Korea, and also increased volume of fruit and vegetables in the trade.
Another carrier, Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd., plans to inaugurate its own Australia-Far East service July 1. OOCL said it will go it alone in the trade, following the scheduled June 30 breakup of a consortium among itself, ANL, Asia Australia Express Ltd. and Yangming Marine Transport Corp.
OOCL initially will offer sailings at 12-day intervals between Hong Kong, Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan, and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia. The Hong Kong-based company said the frequency soon will be upgraded to nine days.
Neither OOCL nor ANL are deterred by current overcapacity in the western Pacific.
The competitive shipping environment is reflected in the wool trade out of Australia to the northern markets of South Korea and Japan.
At the beginning of this year, the Australia Northbound Shipping Conference reduced its freight rate for shipping wool to Japan by 10 percent. The rate for full containerloads was reduced by 13 percent.
Australia, the world's largest exporter of wool, is the main supplier to the Japanese market, and Japan is Australia's best customer.
It is understood rates in the trade have been influenced by the active encouragement given by the wool industry to independent shipowners to enter the trade in competition with conference lines.
The rate for full containerloads of wool shipped to South Korea in non- conference vessels is close to 50 percent below that offered by conference lines.
ANL traditionally has been a supporter of the conference system. It is understood its two new vessels will operate within the conference system.
Lloyd Triestino, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Regional Container Lines recently launched a new joint container service, known as the Australia South Asia Service, between Australia and Singapore.
Australia South Asia Service currently operates two ships, each with a capacity of 700 containers, including 120 refrigerated boxes.
The operation is virtually a feeder service for transshipment into and out of Singapore for various Southeast Asian countries, mainly Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Giuliano Alberghini, chief executive at Lloyd Triestino, was quoted here as stating: "It is a further step in the area covered by our organization, in line with Lloyd Triestino's strategy in recent years to strengthen its presence in the Australian region."
Malaysian International Shipping Corp. late last year introduced three new ships in the trade between Australia and Southeast Asia to improve efficiency and be more competitive.