Zim, Maersk, MSC sign co-operation pact on Asia-U.S. East Coast trades

Israeli liner company Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Danish carrier Maersk Line and Swiss liner company Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) said today they will co-operate on sailings in the Asia-U.S. East Coast trades, another effort on the part of the world’s container lines to boost efficiencies and profits through alliance relationships.

Under the seven-year agreement expected to start in early September, Maersk and MSC, which together comprise the 2M Alliance, will operate five weekly services between Asia and the U.S. Zim will operate one of the weekly services, and the 2M Alliance will operate the other four. The carriers said they will swap vessel slots on all services. By capacity, Maersk and MSC are the two largest carriers in the world.

“The agreement is a vote of confidence by the two largest players in the industry, acknowledging Zim’s capabilities, reliability and strength,” Eli Glickman, president and CEO of Haifa-based Zim, said in a statement. Zim’s network is strongest in the Asian trades, and Glickman said the partnership will strengthen its capabilities there.

Today’s announcement is another step in the carriers’ strategies to forge alliances to reconcile capacity and reduce costs. Liner companies have struggled mightily in recent years with overcapacity, which has led to financially destructive rate wars. Alliances, combined with several mergers, have reduced to 21 from 30 the number of liner companies that control the bulk of global container traffic.

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