Thailand to launch national shipping line next year

Thailand plans to set sail with a national shipping line next year, according to the Ministry of Commerce, as the export-driven Kingdom stakes its claim as a maritime trading and logistics hub.

Minister of Transport Saksayam Chidchob said that Thailand’s Port Authority had been tasked with conducting a feasibility study on a national shipping line, and he expected that the study and the proposal would be endorsed by the cabinet in February 2022.

The Maritime Executive, and industry publication, wrote that “According to comments by the Minister of Transport, the new plan called for Thailand to enter into a partnership with an unnamed private company that would own 51 percent of the new entity. The plan is to charter ships and initially start service in June 2022 with domestic routes.”

The government believes that a national shipping line would make Thailand more competitive by helping to boost Thai exports and also by reducing shipping costs. Shipping costs have skyrocketed over the past couple of years because of a container shortage. Some shippers put the cost in July this year at four times the cost of the previous year.

Quoting a 1988 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) publication, “National shipping fleets that are internationally competitive would contribute to the long-term stability and efficiency of shipping services and help promote trade and generate economic activity.”

The key is thus the competitiveness of the line. If the national shipping line is uncompetitive, it would require support and subsidies that could be a drag on economic growth.

Exports are the main engine of Thailand’s economic growth, and so shipping is a crucial issue for the health of the economy.

Minister Saksayam said that, according to his proposals, the government would eventually have three separate companies handling domestic, regional and international shipping.