The ripples from the collapse of South Korean container giant Hanjin spread wider and wider as nearly half its ships are turned away from ports worldwide and US retailers urge their government to take steps to minimise disruption. David Pollard reports.
Big ships, fast cranes carrying the world's export trade. A schoolboy's dream - but that dream turning sour for Hanjin as its ships grind to a halt. Its shares suspended since plunging 24 per cent after its banks withdrew support and it filed for court receivership this week. 44 of its 98 container ships of the world's 7th biggest container shipper now denied access to ports worldwide. (SOUNDBITE)(English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: "It's bad news for the company, clearly, it's bad news for those who've involved their supply chains with this shipping organisation, so that's some challenges potentially for some of those South Korean exporters, and I think it's just implicit in terms of the slower rate of global growth that we're having to become accustomed to compared to the pre-crisis period." This is an emergency meeting by the shipping minister in South Korea. But the emergency is as much elsewhere. Reports suggest ten ships have already been seized by creditors - firms in the US are launching legal action to do more of the same over unpaid bills. And US retailers are calling on their government to take steps to minimise disruption. But with ships spread from Sydney to Hamburg, that won't happen quickly. SOUNDBITE (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "It can certainly provide plenty of disruption in the run-up to Christmas - it does come at an awkward time, really. And you could start to see the effects being felt, the economic data around the globe, if the shipping schedule falls behind. If people to start to notice that shipping is starting to weaken, it rapidly takes centre stage." Container shipping is a sector saddled with big debts and overcapacity. Analysts ask whether more global waves are yet to come from this crisis - if fewer perhaps from the ships at the centre of it.