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(LEAD) S. Korea to lead Hanjin ships to three offshore base ports

2016/09/05 19:48

(ATTN: UPDATES with meeting between Hanjin Group and Korea Development Bank)

By Kim Boram

SEJONG, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will direct container carriers of Hanjin Shipping Co. put under court receivership to selected offshore ports where safe freight unloading can be guaranteed without any fear of vessel seizures, a government task force on the Hanjin-related logistics crisis said Monday.

The task force, which was formed as last Friday's receivership of South Korea's largest shipper triggered snowballing logistic chaos worldwide, said that of 97 Hanjin Shipping carriers available, only 36 are in normal operation, with the remaining 61 at abnormal status. Out of the 61, 47 are standing by on the high seas, while 12 are banned from loading and unloading, it noted.

"There are ports that have issued stay orders or guaranteed protection so that cargo can be safely offloaded there," Vice Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok, who is a co-head of the task force, said in a briefing. "We selected each from three continents and Hamburg of Germany, Singapore and the United States (or Los Angeles) will be Hanjin's base ports."

   Ships cruising in the waters of Northeast Asia will be directed to South Korean ports of Busan and Gwangyang, he added.

Following the filing of court receivership by the nation's leading container shipping line, many Hanjin-flagged container ships have been stranded at sea and ports due to asset seizure requests by creditors.

Choi said the government has chosen the three offshore base ports as they will provide legal protection for Hanjin vessels which have faced seizure of vessels and decline of port leave and entry.

Hanjin has filed a petition for stay orders before a U.S. court and the result is expected to come out on Wednesday, while the authorities of Hamburg and Singapore are very supportive, noted Choi.

"The top priority is to help Hanjin ships have their freight safely offloaded in the port," said the official.

For unpaid unloading fees, however, the vice minister said Hanjin has to take responsibility in the first place.

"The company and its major shareholders are responsible for the costs," said Choi. "The government has no plan to provide payment guarantee or support fiscal injection, as it is a matter between the shipper and consignor."

   Earlier in the day, the top financial regulator also pressed the Hanjin Group to take full responsibility for the delivery of cargo under existing contracts signed by the debt-laden shipping unit.

Also Monday, some Hanjin Group officials met with officials from the state-run Korea Development Bank, the main creditor of Hanjin Shipping, apparently over how to provide assistance to the cash-strapped shipping line, a KDB official said, without giving any further details. He asked not to be identified, citing policy.

brk@yna.co.kr

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