Thailand eases restrictions on big ships to tackle container shortage

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN): Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has resolved to tackle the global shortage of cargo containers by easing restrictions at Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri.

Jurin, who doubles as deputy PM, said the ministry and the Port of Authority of Thailand had agreed to requests from shipping companies to allow large cargo vessels of 18,000 TUE (400 metres-plus) to dock at the port without asking permission.

Meanwhile, export permits for shippers will take just one day to process and be valid for two years.

The new measures will enable large vessels to transport Thai exports directly to target countries without transferring via Singapore or any other port, which will help reduce costs, Jurin said.

Also, products that do not need to be shipped in containers – such as fruit, coconuts, rubberwood and other agricultural produce – will be redirected to ordinary ships to save container space for exports.

The measures will be implemented from the third week of February.

Meanwhile the Port Authority will ask the Cabinet for permission to reduce fees for importing empty containers as an incentive for shippers to ease the shortage. - The Nation/Asia News Network

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