Ministry seeks transhipment clarity on proposed mega port in HCMC

By Bach Quang
Fri, August 5, 2022 | 1:57 pm GTM+7

The Transport Ministry is uncertain about foreign investor commitment that 80% of cargo at the proposed Can Gio international container port in HCMC would be transhipped from Singapore.

A corner of the coastal district of Can Gio in HCMC. Photo courtesy of Lao dong newspaper.

A corner of the coastal district of Can Gio in HCMC. Photo courtesy of Lao dong newspaper.

Swizerland’s Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a world leader in global container shipping, has proposed a $6 billion port complex in the coastal district of Can Gio, which would have a capacity three times higher than HCMC’s Cat Lai Port, now the country's largest.

At a meeting at the end of 2021, the Vietnam Maritime Corporation (VIMC) asked for Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and relevant bodies to support the proposal. The project would be carried out in collaboration with MSC and Saigon Port, a VIMC subsidiary.

At the end of June 2022, HCMC People’s Committee Phan Van Mai signed an official document proposing that the Prime Minister allows the gigantic port project with 7.2 kilometers of wharf.

Early this month, the transport ministry asked relevant agencies to carefully evaluate the impact of the proposed project on allocation of cargo volume, cargo flow, maritime transport routes of the region and the whole country, as well as on the country’s existing port complexes like the Cat Lai and Hiep Phuoc in HCMC; Cai Mep-Thi Vai in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Lach Huyen in the northern city of Hai Phong.

The document was sent to the HCMC People’s Committee, the Committee for Management of State Capital at Enterprises, and the Vietnam Maritime Administration.

Relevant agencies were also asked to evaluate the project’s impact on national interest, interests of the Vietnamese company in a joint venture with the MSC Group to build the port, and benefits of related companies in such areas as logistics, transportation and fleet development.

According to a report by VIMC, the Can Gio port would see 80% of transhipment goods come from countries in the region and 20% from within Vietnam.

In this regard, the transport ministry wanted clarity as to which originating countries the 80% of cargo transhipped via Singapore would come from in order to determine the feasibility of the cargo source. It also wanted to know from what berths in Vietnam the remaining 20% of cargo would leave for the Can Gio port.

Investors need to firmly commit that the 80/20 ratio of cargo would be ensured as proposed without negatively affecting the operations of nearby ports and seaports, the ministry stressed.

It also wanted the HCMC People’s Committee and the Committee for Management of State Capital at Enterprises to direct the investors to clarify their plan to establish the joint venture and demonstrate capability to mobilize investment capital for the project.

In a report sent July 5 to the transport ministry, the Vietnamese partner VIMC affirmed that, under “professional eyes”, the foreign partner MSC highly evaluated the location of the proposed port (on Phu Loi island) as well as the opportunity to make this future seaport a major international trade hub in the region.

VIMC said the Can Gio area is located at the beginning of the Cai Mep-Thi Vai navigational route, with a great depth. It is less affected by bad conditions when it comes to waves and winds. Moreover, Can Gio belongs a region with busy maritime activities, near international maritime routes. “These are important conditions for the formation of an international container transshipment port system and services.”

VIMC chairman Le Anh Son said that the project would help to position Vietnam on the maritime map as an important link in the global supply chain, connecting efficiently with domestic seaports and delivering direct advantages for exports.

The proposed port, with 7.2 kilometers of wharf, would be able to receive ships with tonnage of up to 250,000 DWT (equivalent to 24,000 TEUs) and feeder ships of 10,000 to 65,000 tonnage DWT. The proposed project site covers about 570 hectares. The port’s design capacity is 10-15 million TEUs.

VIMC has been cooperating with MSC in exploiting and developing seaport infrastructure in Vietnam.

Cat Lai in District 2, HCMC is currently the largest port in the country, accounting for approximately 85% of southern port container freight and 50% of the country's total.

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