Maersk has implemented a new feeder service to the rapidly developing port of Yibin; which is located in the west of China, in a bid to assure their commitment to mainland China operations.
Maersk has said that it intends to end feeder services with 10 ports within mainland China, a move that a number of industry representatives say is suggestive that Maersk have the intention of leaving mainland China. However, Maersk officials have been quick to rebuff these claims by saying that it is normal to make adjustments to intermodal services the container line provides.
“The impact is minimal, as the customers can always choose to use adjacent ports that we service or move the cargo via merchant haulage," a company spokesperson said at the time.
In defence of Maersk, their move to Yibin does make logical sense. It is a port that is in close proximity of two of the fastest developing cities in China; Chongqing and Chengdu. Newly developed rail links and express highways make the connection between the two powerhouse cities and the port of Yibin more efficient for Maersk. To put in perspective the prosperity of the region, Chongqing last year hit a GDP growth of 11%, drowning the national average of 7%.
Yibin city government and Shanghai International Port Group in 2010 formed a joint venture to develop container handling facilities at the port, with phase one consisting of four container ship berths and one roll-on, roll-off berth offering capacity of 500,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units and 10,000 vehicles on an annual basis.