"K' LINE HOOKS UP WITH MEXICAN LINE TO EXPAND SERVICE FROM THE FAR EAST

"K' LINE HOOKS UP WITH MEXICAN LINE TO EXPAND SERVICE FROM THE FAR EAST

Japanese steamship company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha ("K" Line) has expanded its Mexico service through a connecting carrier agreement with Marmex Line, which will move "K" Line's Far East freight between Mexico's west coast and Southern California.

Service from Long Beach, Calif., to the Port of Topolobampo in the state of Sinaloa along the Gulf of California began late last month. Shippers in the Far East trades are offered weekly fixed-day sailings from Mexico in an express all-water service."We basically see opportunities in both directions," said Steve Aldridge, ''K" Line's assistant vice president of sales for the Pacific region in Newport Beach, Calif.

Primary exports from Asia to Mexico are expected to include general department store merchandise, electronic goods, footwear, auto parts, tires and textiles, he said.

Mexican exports to Asia, the stronger leg of the service, will include seafood, liquor, "kubocha squash and some refrigerated commodities like

melons, frozen pork and also some vegetables," Mr. Aldridge said.

Marmex serves Tobolobampo in a weekly service designed to match the transit schedules of motor carriers - which until recently have carried the brunt of North American trade. Cargo bound to the Far East from Mexico leaves Topolobampo on Tuesdays and arrives in Long Beach on Fridays, with an averaging steaming time of two and a half hours.

Marmex, owned by San Francisco-based freight forwarder Flag Pacific Inc., operates the chartered German-owned container vessel Uranus I, which has a capacity of 386 20-foot equivalent containers, or TEUs. Stevedoring in Long Beach will be handled by "K" Line's subsidiary International Transportation Service Inc.

Under the new arrangement, exporters in Mexico will be offered direct- source loading service from Ciudad Obregon and Navojoa in the southern part of the border state of Sonora and from Los Mochis, Topolobampo and Culiacan in the state of Sinaloa.

The new service marks an expansion for "K" Line, one of the pioneers of double-stack train service into Mexico. Along with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, "K" Line's Azteca service remains popular with importers and exporters in Mexico City.

The new service with Marmex allows the Japanese steamship company to get a foothold in the central Mexican market, and gives it greater access to Mexican exporters, who have traditionally relied on truck service through Nogales, Ariz., and then on to Long Beach.

"We'll be soliciting our cargoes from Asia direct into Topolobampo for direct distribution in the central Mexico area," said Mr. Aldridge, adding that Marmex will solicit U.S. customers moving origin cargo to Topolobampo.

The port of Topolobampo has recently been expanded and includes a 25-acre container yard, 46,000 square-foot on-dock freight station and on-dock reefer plugs for perishable goods. The federal government recently granted concessions for private-sector construction and operation of grain, cement and fish-processing terminals in Topolobampo.