Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Five Century Old Port Sees Revival with Added LCL Freight Offering as Tonnages Rise

Less than Container Load Cargoes Consolidated to Good Effect
Shipping News Feature
COLOMBIA – Last year saw Swiss logistics group Panalpina set up what it claimed as the first ocean freight hub in Cartagena for Central and South American LCL (Less than Container Load) cargoes. The Port of Cartagena, the country's premier port, is drawing an increasing number of multinational companies, with ranges from cosmetics, shampoo, chocolates and canned food to sportswear, cars, automotive parts and washing machines, passing through its gates daily.

The Port says it has claimed the status of maritime gateway to the continent for almost five centuries, with the Spanish conquistadors making full use of the natural advantages, strategic position and its easily defensible position as a key route for the export of silver. The Port of Cartagena had the fourth highest throughput of all container gateways in Latin America and the Caribbean for 2018, according to figures released in April by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The port handled 2.9 million TEU in 2018, 6.9% more than in 2017, and data from SICEX for 2018 also shows that Panalpina was the Port of Cartagena’s biggest importer, 12% market share, based on tonnage, and second biggest exporter, 23% market share, by the same criteria.

Last year when Panalpina moved its logistics operations from Panama to Cartagena it says it became the first freight forwarder and NVOCC (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier) to use Cartagena for Central and South American LCL cargoes. Cleber Oliveira, Panalpina’s regional Ocean Freight LCL manager, Latin America, explains the reasoning behind that decision thus:

“Having shifted operations from Panama to Cartagena, we are able to give our customers the benefits of shorter transit times, better service and lower costs. All operations are carried out inside the port in the free trade zone, which means that there is no need to transport the inbound cargo somewhere else to consolidate and deliver the containers back. Compared to a set-up where consolidation has to happen elsewhere in Central America or outside the port, we can offer better and more efficient services in Cartagena.”

At the Cartagena LCL hub, Panalpina consolidates multiple consignments from a range of customers or their suppliers into one Full Container Load (FCL). The clients, mostly from the consumer and retail as well as fashion industries, can ship low volumes without having the cost commitments of a full container. Hence, LCL gives customers with lower-volume shipments access to the economies of scale in ocean freight that are normally restricted to full container movements.

In Cartagena, Panalpina claims it now provides the highest number of direct LCL services on the market, with sailings from Cartagena to the Central and Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curacao (some services of competitors go via Panama with a transit time of three to four times greater). These direct LCL services connect Latin America and the Caribbean to the world and back via other regional hubs and gateways such as Busan, New York, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg.

Panalpina currently offers 20 outbound and 21 inbound weekly consolidated services via Cartagena. Southampton (UK) and Istanbul (Turkey) were the last services to be added on the inbound, Guayaquil (Ecuador), Callao (Peru) and Valparaiso (Chile) the last services on the outbound.