With India fighting a deadly second wave of Covid-19, South Korean shipping line HMM has announced that it will charge $1 for each container containing medical supplies sent to the nation, with vessel space and equipment assigned top priority.
The discount covers clinical oxygen products such as medical grade oxygen, oxygen tanks, oxygen bottles, concentrators of oxygen, steel pipes for the production of oxygen cylinders and related medical equipment to combat the outbreak.
The line is in a good position to provide discounted rates: in the first quarter of 2021, with a rise in freight and volume rates, HMM announced its largest ever operating profit. Total revenue of $2.2 billion in the first quarter of 2021 represented an increase of 85 percent over the level recorded in the first quarter of 2020. According to the firm, higher freight prices are expected to persist through the first half of 2021, buoyed by supply chain challenges and increased cargo demand. However, the company expects that the pervasive presence of COVID-19 and inadequate vaccine programs in many countries will create significant instability, reducing container volumes on some trading lanes.
For nearly two weeks, India has registered more than 300,000 new cases a day, with a death toll of 220,000, and its hospitals are suffering from a lack of oxygen.
“Even though we are facing a global scarcity of both vessel space and containers, humanitarian activities should come first,” an HMM official said. “We would like to carry out our social obligations using our broad knowledge and experience, but still supporting the world in a better way than we did in the past.”
Previously, ZIM had also announced that it would transport containers containing medical grade oxygen to India for a nominal fee.
Ever since Hanjin Shipping declared bankruptcy in 2017, South Korea has been working to create a national carrier strong enough to take its place, catering to the country’s huge export market. With powerful state support, HMM has emerged as the country’s number one carrier. It operates some of the world’s largest containerships, and it ranks on the list of the 10 biggest ocean carriers in the world.