Korean flag ships’ shipping power was halved in North American routes where they were strong players. Although the US economy is recovering sharply and global trade volume is on the rise, China, Europe, and Japan are dominating this market by expanding their sizes.
Last year, Hyundai Merchant Marine recorded a 5.47% share of North American routes, according to Pierce, a global shipping research company on February 5. In 2015 when now-defunct Hanjin Shipping was in operation, the two Korean shipping companies enjoyed a combined 11% share of North American routes. However, after the liquidation of Hanjin Shipping, Hyundai Merchant Marine’s share was cut in half in the first half of last year. Hyundai Merchant Marine (4.7 percent in 2016) secured about 0.8% of a 7% market share left by Hanjin Shipping when Hanjin Shipping went under.
Hanjin Shipping's shipping volume in North American routes was shared by big global shipping companies. Last year, China’s Cosco recorded a market share of 10.2%, up from 8.6% in 2016. France’s CMA CGM (1.4%p), Hong Kong’s OOCL (1.1%p), Japan’s MOL and NYK (0.5%p each) and Switzerland (0.4%p) chalked up jumps in their market shares from a year before.
In particular, if Japan launches 'ONE' which combines three Japanese shipping companies this year, it is expected to further weaken Korean shipping companies’ position. "It has been forecast that Northeast Asian shipping companies such as those of China and Japan will share a piece of the pie left by Hanjin Shipping which was shut down," a shipping industry official said. “The expansion of Chinese and Japanese shipping companies’ sizes is enervating Korean shipping companies in terms of sales power to attract cargoes.” While Korea's shipping industry was faltering, Chinese and Japanese shipping companies took North American routes, the largest export routes to North America from Korean shipping firms.