Sunday, 31 May 2009

New Vietnam port heralds US service

HANOI (AFP) — The first deepwater container shipping terminal serving Vietnam's southern commercial hub has opened, allowing direct service to the United States to begin next week, a shipping firm said.

The APL Alexandrite on Friday became the first container vessel to call at the new Saigon Port-PSA facility on the Cai Mep River in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, the global container shipping firm APL said in a statement.

The port is southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

APL said the vessel "was undertaking a trial voyage ahead of the beginning on June 4 of the industry's first direct container shipping service linking Vietnam and the west coast of North America".

Another APL ship, the Denver, is to depart from the new port on Thursday for Seattle, the statement said.

"With this port, the first direct shipping service from Vietnam to North America is possible," Vietnam's deputy transport minister Tran Doan Tho was quoted as saying in the Vietnam News on Saturday.

The US and Vietnam fought a war in the 1960s and early 1970s but economic ties have been restored and grown since the US lifted a trade embargo in 1994 and diplomatic relations were normalised a year later.

The Washington-based US-ASEAN Business Council, which represents more than 100 US companies, said on a visit to Vietnam recently that the US is on track to become the leading foreign direct investor in Vietnam within three years.

APL is unit of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines, while the new port is a joint venture between Saigon Port, Vietnam National Shipping Lines and PSA Vietnam, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore's port operator PSA International.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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