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Call for clear policy towards regional gateway

Sep 01. 2011
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Private companies have urged the government to establish a clear policy on promoting the logistics sector if the Kingdom is to become a regional gateway for marine and inland transport, as well as a logistics hub.

"If we worked on it together, there is nothing we couldn't make happen," said Sumate Tanthuwanit, president of Regional Container Lines, the country's largest listed shipping company by market capitalisation.

Speaking at a seminar on logistics development at the "11th Thailand Competitiveness Conference" on Tuesday, he said that if the Laem Chabang deep-sea port is to provide linkage between marine and inland transport for the trans-shipment of products and goods between Thailand and such countries as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, its capacity must be expanded from the current 6 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs).

The equivalent Malaysian facility is capable of handling 20 million TEUs, while Singapore's capacity is 50 million TEUs, he said. Both are run by private companies.

Sumate said Laem Chabang deep-sea port, which is also operated by private firms, could not offer competitive prices to logistics operators. "This is very a weak point when it comes to thinking how to encourage mother ships to drop by the port.

"If the government were to make the seaport and inland transport more competitive, Thailand could become a regional gateway for marine and inland transport between Asean and other regions such as the European Union and the United States. Besides, it can be a hub for logistics transport within Asean," he said.

Bhumindr Harinsuit, managing director of Harinsuit Transport and vice president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the state should encourage the efficiency of multi-modal or shifting modes of transport by providing appropriate incentives and making it convenient to conduct such operations.

Voratat Tantimongkolsuk, vice chairman of the Thai Airfreight Forwarders Association, said air-road feeder networks would be the trend for regional transport of goods and products, as there would be less space for pure air cargo in the wake of higher demand for short-haul passenger travel due to the services offered by fast-growing budget airlines.

He said price and convenience were among the key components to facilitating efficient logistics.

Sumate said he was not unduly concerned over the entrance of international logistics firms when the Asean Economic Community comes into full effect in 2015, as local operators have the flexibility to adjust and compete.

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