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(LEAD) Finance minister vows all efforts to solve Hanjin crisis

All News 18:17 September 07, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS court's request for emergency funding in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's finance minister said Wednesday that the government will pull out all the stops to cope with global maritime logistics problems caused by the court receivership of debt-laden Hanjin Shipping Co.

The receivership of Hanjin, South Korea's largest and the world's seventh-largest shipper, has triggered snowballing logistic chaos across the world over the past several days.

Of 97 Hanjin Shipping carriers available, only 36 were operating normally, with the remaining 61 in abnormal status, as of early this week, according to officials.

"As the top economic policymaker, I feel responsible for causing the confusion and concerns," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho, who also double hatted as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said in a minister-level meeting held in Seoul. "From now on, the government will unite all our efforts to solve the problems step by step," he said, referring to Hanjin vessels being denied entry into overseas ports.

The South Korean government earlier announced a plan to direct such vessels to selected offshore ports, including Singapore and Hamburg, where safe freight unloading can be guaranteed, in order to help Hanjin ships have their cargo safely offloaded at the port.

Some container carriers floating in waters off the west coast of the United States are expected to gain approval to arrive in the Port of Long Beach, where a Hanjin Shipping terminal is located, the finance minister said.

He also said more than 20 alternative vessels will be mobilized on routes to North America, Europe and Southeast Asia starting late this week.

Under the intensifying pressure to shoulder unpaid unloading fees, Hanjin Group on Tuesday decided to raise 100 billion won, including 40 billion won of group chairman Cho Yang-ho's private assets, to cover the urgent expenses to help its stranded ships land and discharge cargo.

"It's great that Hanjin Group has made a responsible decision," said Yoo. "The government will also join forces with Hanjin Group to settle the situation."

He also said the government will provide full support to help cash-strapped small and mid-sized exporters who lost their products on board the abandoned Hanjin ships.

Meanwhile, the Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday requested to meet with the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), the main creditor of Hanjin Shipping, for emergency funding, while also seeking cooperation from related government bodies.

The court said it is unclear when the 100 billion won support plan rolled out by the Hanjin Group will be carried out, let alone the fact that it falls short of the amount needed to normalize the shipper.

"To resolve the logistic chaos and normalize Hanjin Shipping, the financial support should be provided within this week," it said.

The court said the new fund will be used under its strict monitoring to help resolve the current situation.

Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho (C) speaks in a minister-level meeting in Seoul on Sept. 7, 2016. (Yonhap)


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