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Shipping firms to contain problem   2010-12-24 - VIR

Foreign shipping lines have been left at sea by unclear liquidation procedures for abandoned containers at Vietnam’s ports.

Danish shipping logistics firm Maersk Vietnam told VIR that it had 48 abandoned containers at Haiphong and Ho Chi Minh City ports.

“Retarded liquidation of goods has caused huge losses to us as we have to pay high leasing costs for these containers. We have to pay storage charge of $1.6 and $2.4 per day for a 20-foot container and a 40-foot container respectively. We also have to pay a daily per diem of $1-3 for each container,” said the company’s general director Peter Smidt-Nielsen.

“Abandoned cargoes are one of the big issues of many shipping lines in Vietnam today,” he said.

Under the Ministry of Finance’s Circular 05/2003/TT-BTC guiding the disposal of goods left in stock at Vietnam’s seaports, the carriers could arrange a liquidation of the abandoned cargoes retained by them through the cargo liquidation board in each sea port.

However, Smidt-Nielsen said the circular did not stipulate the waiting time for having the abandoned cargoes liquidated by the liquidation board.

“In fact it is a very long today,” he said, citing that a liquidation board only held one or two meetings per year to look at the list of abandoned containers submitted by the shipping lines.

“The situation has deprived us of many business opportunities. We cannot use these containers for transport and freight income during this time,” he said.

Maersk is not the only carrier facing the problem. Japan-backed NYK Line reported at least 10 containers were failing to be liquidated at Ho Chi Minh City’s Cat Lai and VICT ports and Haiphong’s Transvina port.

According to Vietnam International Container Terminal Company, by July 2010, some 65 containers remained at the VICT port without settling customs procedures. Many belonged to global shipping lines like GE Seaco SRL Company, Cronos Equipment Ltd Company, SITC Container Lines Co Ltd., Hyundai Merchant Marine Co Ltd. and Tal International Company.

Meanwhile, Saigon Newport reported that up to August 2010, some 235 containers fell in the same situation, though they had been asked to be liquidated Since early October last year.

By last August, 6,651 containers were left at Haiphong port without any onwership declared.

Haiphong Port One-Member Ltd. Company’s vice general director Bui Chien Thang said regulations on the determination of goods left in stock or abandoned goods were unclear.

“It often takes up to two years to liquidate a container. This causes big financial losses to shipping lines and badly affects ports’ prestige,” Thang said.

In early November, 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai issued document 7864/VPCP-KTTH asking the ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, Industry and Trade, Finance, Public Security, Transport and the people’s committees of Haiphong, Quang Ninh and Ho Chi Minh City to remove all obstacles to the liquidation process.

But Smidt-Nielsen said there were so many offices and bodies involved in this process, and it was not easy to get them aligned to solve the problem due to inefficient cooperation.

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