The Ministry of Transport is considering setting up state-owned national shipping lines to help connect shipments between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, as part of the government’s Land Bridge campaign.
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the proposed shipping lines would support the nation’s maritime logistics system. The lines can be operated by state enterprises or subsidiaries of the Port Authority of Thailand.
Services will be overseen by three separate entities comprising a domestic shipping company, a company operating in the Gulf of Thailand and a firm operating in the Andaman Sea.
The national shipping services would help provide logistics connectivity between ports in Chumphon and Ranong provinces, in tandem with the government’s Land Bridge campaign.
Minister Saksayam said the proposal would be presented to the Cabinet this year, with completion set for 2029. He added that his ministry hopes the development effort will make Thailand one of the world’s top logistics players.
According to comments by the minister, the new plan calls for Thailand to enter into a partnership with an unnamed private company that will own 51 percent of the new entity. The plan is to charter ships and initially start service in June 2022 with domestic routes. The first routes will operate on the Gulf of Thailand transporting goods between Bangkok and industrial centers on the eastern coast and southeast. The minister said they also planned to add regional and international routes, and he said it would provide employment for graduates of the country’s Merchant Marine Training Center.
Currently, they estimate that Thai shipping operations transport less than 10 percent of the country’s goods.
The COVID pandemic and global travel restrictions have taken a toll on the Thai economy, which normally benefits from a strong tourist trade. Thailand has been building its export trades but the minister said they are highly dependent on foreign companies for freight services. “With COVID, the minister told Bloomberg, “we’re facing container shortages, so a lot of our goods can’t be shipped and some of our products will perish.”