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Vietnam's Cai Mep has potential to become major regional gateway

THE successful accommodation of the 18,000-TEU Margrethe Maersk at the beginning of the year at Cai Mep International Terminal (CMIT), a joint venture terminal established by Vietnam National Shipping Lines, Saigon port andAPM Terminals, in Ba Ria- Vung Tau, marks a big step in the development of Vietnam's maritime logistics sector.

This achievement puts the Cai Mep-Thi Vai port group on track to make good use of their geographical advantages to develop into a regional international gateway.

Now that the terminal's capability to handle vessels of over 18,000 TEU has been successfully put to the test, it has opened an opportunity to turn CMIT into a regional transshipment centre. 

Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Transport, Nguyen Van Cong, was quoted as saying in a report by Vietnam Logistics Review: "Cai Mep-Thi Vai port group has the designed capacity of seven million TEU per annum. However, in 2012, its capacity was only four to five per cent of the designed capacity. 

"In 2016, the cargo throughput was 3.5 million TEU. The navigation way was synchronously upgraded and is able to receive larger vessels to the port. In 2016, CMIT had import-export goods of 1,979,000 TEU (an increase of 48 per cent), local transshipment goods reached 1.3 million TEU, international transshipment goods reached 160,000 TEU; and the number of vessels coming increased 75 per cent."

During a speech at the ceremony to mark the receiving of Margrethe Maersk, general director Nguyen Thi Ha Giang of Maersk Line, Vietnam, noted that trade between Vietnam and northern Europe has increased by 35 per cent. She said that with more support from the government in terms of policies, infrastructure, and technology upgrades, they can call for more frequent anchoring of super vessels, to create the second largest Asia-Europe route in the future.

According to CMIT general director, Robert Hambleton, "the arrival of Margrethe Maersk is an important milestone for both CMIT and Vietnam maritime sector, for it proved that the terminal is able to serve as a regional transshipment centre to goods in Southeast Asia, especially for trading routes of Vietnam-northern Europe".

However, to achieve that target, Vietnam should be more determined in its course of comprehensive economic innovation. Moreover, there should be more synchrony in the development of both road and waterway infrastructures, to enable Vietnam to act as a gateway to Southeast Asia. 

At the event, Deputy Minister Nguyen Van Cong urged the Vietnam Maritime Administration to propose to the Ministry of Transport that the Thi Vai-Vung Tau navigation way be dredged from its current depth of 14 metres to 15.5 metres.
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