Korea seeks diplomatic help in sorting out Hanjin mess

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 — Yonhap news agency reports that South Korea is seeking diplomatic help to sort out the mess left by the collapse of Hanjin Shipping.

Hanjin's court-sanction self-restructuring plan has left many of its containerships either unable to dock or to unload their cargo without risking seizure by creditors, but many other Hanjin container vessels have been stranded due to the lack of court-issued stay orders.

Yonhap says that Lee Tae-ho, the deputy foreign minister for economic affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today called in diplomats from 16 countries to ask for their assistance in resolving the logistical crisis facing Hanjin.

"We wanted to assure you that the situation is more or less under control and ... we wanted to ask your home governments for cooperation," he told the diplomats, reports Yonhap.

The deputy foreign minister's view that things are "more or less under control" is not widely shared by shippers.

Today, in the U.S., the National Retail Federation and the Hardwood Federation led a coalition of 120 organizations representing retailers, manufacturers, agribusinesses and other sectors affected by the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy in sending a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker outlining specific concerns and urging her continued leadership in bringing about a resolution.

"U.S. businesses rely on predictability in their supply chains, particularly during the busiest shipping season of the year," wrote NRF and the other coalition members. "The recent bankruptcy filing has caused widespread disruptions in freight shipments worldwide…. The impact on small and medium sized companies could be particularly devastating if this situation is not resolved in a timely manner."

Among the concerns detailed in the letter is ongoing confusion about the location of cargo, where it will be unloaded and whether a cargo owner's goods will be seized by Hanjin's creditors once the ships are docked. The coalition also told Secretary Pritzker that shippers are facing both higher fees assessed to pick up cargo as well as steadily increasing freight charges as they look for new transportation options.

The coalition thanked Secretary Pritzker for efforts thus far and urged her to "continue to work with the South Korean government to bring about a swift and economically beneficial resolution that will allow cargo to move through the global supply chain and give certainty to U.S. businesses."

Read the letter HERE

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