CU Lines joins South Korea-Vietnam route shake up

China United Line (CU Lines), is launching a service between South Korea and South East Asia for the first time after purchasing slots on the Hai Phong Express (HPX) service operated by South Korean carriers HMM and CK Line.

Primarily active within Chinese domestic waters and the Taiwan Strait, CU Line’s major owner, with a 55% shareholding is Unitrans, a Chinese Government controlled company.

The new service will begin on 16 August. The HPX service calls at Incheon, Busan, Hong Kong, and Hai Phong, Vietnam.

HMM and CK Line will each deploy one 1,200TEU container ship on the HPX service, with South Korean ship agency Star Ocean Line set to represent CU Lines in the country.

Star Ocean president Eom Tae-Man said the company, “Is expanding its agency business by representing liner operators from various countries, such as China’s CU Lines, Singapore’s Feedertech and Perma Shipping Line.”

Intense competition in the East Asia-South East Asia trades is growing, a point noted by South Korea’s Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Moon Seong-hyeok when he launched an enhanced five-year plan to revive the shipping industry on 12 August 2020.

Just as the HPX service was launched, another South Korean feeder operator Pan Continental Shipping (PanCon Line), announced that it will deploy an owned vessel to increase capacity on the Busan-Incheon-Hai Phong (BIH) service.

Since the BIH service began in late 2015, PanCon Line has purchased slots from compatriot feeder operator Namsung Shipping. From 25 August, PanCon Line will deploy the 1,000TEU PanCon Victory to complement Namsung’s tonnage.

On 18 August, Thai feeder operator Regional Container Lines and Hong Kong-based Gold Star Line will launch a service connecting Ho Chi Minh City with Singapore and Malaysia’s Port Klang, using a 900TEU vessel.

Container volumes between East Asia and South East Asia, especially Vietnam, have been growing because US-China trade tensions caused manufacturers to shift some production from China to Vietnam.

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