Hanjin Shipping Leaving Port of Portland

Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd., the Port of Portland’s biggest trans-Pacific container carrier, confirmed the shipping line intends to pull out of Portland, ending two decades of service to exporters and importers.

Ending weekly service would be a major blow to the Northwest economy, hurting big importers such as Fred Meyer and Columbia Sportswear Co. and numerous exporters that would have to pay more to truck containers to the Port of Seattle.

It could jeopardize, too, the international container terminal as a business entity, potentially pricing out the remaining two carriers, Westwood Shipping Lines and Hapag-Lloyd.

Port of Portland managers said the decision may not be final, and pledged to do what they could to retain Hanjin or find a replacement.

A Hanjin letter sent to customers and obtained by The Oregonian did leave an opening for reconsideration. “Hanjin Shipping will continue to review the resumption of direct call service based on changing circumstances,” it said.

Hanjin, which began its Portland-Asia service in 1994, pulled out at one point in 2001 and returned three or four months later.

Bob Coleman, president of the Columbia River Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association, called Hanjin’s decision devastating and said a withdrawal would hurt not only importers but exporters in eastern Oregon and Washington who ship their products by barge, truck and rail down the Columbia River. Exporters of products such as compressed hay, for example, have low margins that may not justify an extra $400 or $500 charge to truck a container to Seattle or Tacoma.

Each Hanjin vessel loads and offloads an average 1,600 containers per weekly call, according to the Port of Portland. Hanjin’s service represents about 80 percent of the container terminal’s volume, said Josh Thomas, a Port spokesman. He said the service supports an estimated 771 jobs in the region.

–Richard Read/The Oregonian


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