The two new services are specially designed to provide a direct connection, competitive transit times, greater efficiency, and added flexibility.
The United Nations’ COMTRADE database reveals that in 2021, Thailand’s exports to destinations in Asia accounted for 62% of the country’s total export value, or more than US$163 billion. China is the country’s largest trading partner, with the value of exports totaling US$36.6 billion—and is expected to continue rising in the coming years.
Responding to these growth trends, the world’s leading ocean carrier, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), launched two new dedicated Intra-Asia services: SEAGULL and PERTIWI. The former service offers a direct connection from Thailand to China’s main ports, as well as to Singapore and Malaysia, with competitive transit times. The latter supports Thailand-to-Indonesia exporters with added efficiency and flexibility.
For insights behind the introduction of MSC’s Intra-Asia services, we took the opportunity to talk with Mr. Gaspard Vandamme, Managing Director; Ms. Rungruedee Kurutuch, Deputy Managing Director; and Mr. Viroj Rekacharoenphan, Export Commercial Manager, Mediterranean Shipping (Thailand) Co., Ltd.
Asia: A Booming Trade Region
Thailand is one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of highly sought-after goods, such as automotive parts, electronics, plastics, crops, and livestock, exporting to key trading partners such as China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Consequently, Intra-Asia exports play a significant part in the Thai economy.
“Committed to supporting the Thai market, MSC recognises the importance of having a comprehensive and effective Intra-Asia service network. For this reason, we decided to invest more in this region, starting with the SEAGULL and PERTIWI services as our first few significant steps,” said Mr. Vandamme.
“So far, MSC in Thailand has been known predominantly for our long-haul services across the globe. However, due to the growing demand for Intra-Asia shipping services, MSC would like to step into the scene to support exporters with service offerings that can truly meet all their transport needs,” added Ms. Rungruedee.
To China in 10 Days with SEAGULL
Previously, with no direct calls, China-bound containers from Thailand had to rely solely on the process of transhipment: cargoes headed south to Singapore on a feeder before heading north to China on a mother vessel. While transhipment is a useful process that allows customers to access MSC’s worldwide service network, it comes at a cost—including longer transit times and proneness to delays and port congestion.
“To meet our customers’ growing demand for cargo shipments to China, we recently launched the SEAGULL service, which provides a direct link from Laem Chabang to China’s main gateway ports, including Shanghai, Ningbo, and Xiamen, with transit times of 10, 12 and 14 days respectively. The first sailing to follow this route departed from Laem Chabang on December 3,” said Mr. Viroj.
In addition, the SEAGULL also provides direct connection from Laem Chabang to Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Penang and Pasir Gudang with competitive transit times of 3, 4, 6 and 9 respectively.
“Not only does the SEAGULL service benefit shippers of China-bound cargoes, but it can also serve as a feeder service for long-haul shippers, whose cargoes can connect to MSC’s global network via transhipment hubs like Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Ningbo and Shanghai.”
SEAGULL calls at Laem Chabang weekly, operating as a butterfly service on the following rotation:
Shanghai – Ningbo – Xiamen – DaChan Bay – Vung Tau – Laem Chabang – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Penang – Pasir Gudang – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Laem Chabang – Vung Tau – Shanghai
Direct Connection to Indonesia with PERTIWI
With the fourth largest population in the world, comprising more than 276 million people, Indonesia is one of the largest and most dynamic economies in the Asia Pacific.
Ms. Rungruedee reveals, “As a destination, Indonesia is attracting more and more attention from our Thai exporters. Before the launch of PERTIWI, however, cargoes from Thailand had to undergo the transshipment process at the Port of Singapore before heading to Indonesia.”
“To improve flexibility and agility of our service offerings, we decided to introduce the PERTIWI service, MSC’s first ever service to offer a direct connection from Laem Chabang to Indonesian ports, whose first sailing took place early last July.”
PERTIWI is a weekly service that links North China and Korea to South-East Asia. Its service rotation is:
Busan – Qingdao – Incheon – Dalian – Tianjin Xingang – Vung Tau – Laem Chabang – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Panjang – Jakarta – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Busan
New Services Well-received by Customers
Discussing the customer reception, Mr. Vandamme revealed that “our Intra-Asia has so far been well-received and well-supported by our customers, especially among the suppliers of consumer goods and raw materials.”
“Still, MSC is relatively new to the Intra-Asia market. Therefore, we are committed to expanding and improving our service offerings in this region. With our resources and infrastructure as the largest container shipping line in the world, we are confident that in the future, we will play a significant role in driving the Intra-Asia trade.”
MSC recognized the potential of Asia’s rapidly growing economy and saw the opportunity to play a part in driving trade within the region. Determined to continuously expand and improve its service offerings, it aims to add value to businesses with logistics solutions that offer efficiency, flexibility, and competitive transit times.