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Port of Boston gets new connection to Vietnam

Massport says recent capital improvements have increased shipping opportunities

The Port of Boston. (Photo: Shutterstock/EQRoy)

The Port of Boston will be part of a trade route that starts in Yantian, China, and stops at Cai Mep, Vietnam, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport).

Massport said the new arrangement with international shipping line Zim will benefit New England companies seeking to increase business ties with Vietnam.

Zim’s biweekly service aims to connect Southeast Asia with the U.S. Northeast via the Suez Canal. The rotation will also have stops in Baltimore and New York. 

According to Massport, Vietnam is the third-largest containerized trading partner among the six New England states, following China and India. Currently, Vietnam makes up approximately 7% of annual containerized freight bound to and from New England. Import and exports include furniture, footwear, sporting equipment, apparel, seafood, recycled fibers and paper and pulp.

“A direct call from Boston to Southeast Asia is critical to International Forest Products’ capitalizing on the emerging opportunities we see in that region. This service is a welcome solution for our New England-based exports and set against the backdrop of what has been a challenging 18 months in the supply chain,” said Dan Kraft, president and CEO of International Forest Products, which is headquartered in Foxborough, Massachusetts. 

The new service to Vietnam comes as Massport and state and federal officials have been seeking to expand the Conley Container Terminal through nearly $850 million in investments. The port has three new neo-Panamax cranes, and it has a new berth. These features, as well as a deepened Boston Harbor, have enabled Boston to handle container ships with a capacity of 12,000 to 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent units. 

“We knew being ‘Big Ship Ready’ was essential to attracting new direct services to expand the global offerings for our customers throughout New England,” said Massport CEO Lisa Wieland in a release. “Developing new trade routes has been a top priority and we are proud to bring Zim into the mix of shipping lines we serve. We are committed to support over 2,500 New England importers and exporters that rely on the port, as well as the thousands of workers, and have significantly enhanced our capabilities to handle more cargo and increase our productivity so that Conley can be competitive in the future and allow for continued growth.”

Other improvements to the terminal that have been recently completed or are in progress include the creation of a dedicated freight haul corridor for trucks, new rubber-tire gantry cranes, expanded container storage and other landside improvements.

Massport boasts that the Conley Terminal hasn’t faced the congestion issues plaguing other U.S. coastal ports, with an average truck turnaround time of only 30 minutes currently. 

Services already calling at the Port of Boston include Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which provides direct service from North Europe to Boston with connections to Latin America, the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, and the OCEAN Alliance (Cosco Shipping, OOCL, Evergreen and CMA CGM), which provides direct service from North Asia.

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Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.