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"K" Line Calls Again at Port of Portland

by Associated Press
The Oregonian, July 31, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. - After pulling out at the end of the 2004, the shipping company "K" line is again calling at the Port of Portland.

The return of container ships from a major Tokyo-based carrier allows Oregon exporters to avoid expensive truck detours to ports in Seattle or Tacoma and should be a plus for agricultural producers who say they have lost business in the Japanese market because of the lack of direct shipping routes from Portland.

"K" Line left Portland in December 2004, saying it added a stop in Shanghai and needed to save time by cutting a U.S. call. Company officials said at the time they might return someday, and they were right.

The company is part of the CKYH Alliance, which includes other Asian shipping lines, such as Chinese shipper Cosco, Taiwanese shipper Yang Ming and Korean shipper Hanjin. The return of "K" Line resulted from a shift within the partnership. The shipping lines operate much like airlines with routing alliances that let them swap routes, depending on efficiency and demand.

In the shift, "K" Line will replace Yang Ming, which leaves Portland without a direct route to Taiwan. But Taiwan is a smaller market than Japan for Oregon exports.

The shift pleased Shaun Harris, a manager with Boardman-based Oregon Hay Products, a partner of S.L. Follen Co., whose biggest customer is Japan.

When "K" Line pulled out of Portland, the company had to find a different way of getting its hay to Japan. The company trucked it to the Port of Tacoma, which cost a couple of hundred dollars extra per container. Because hay is a commodity, the company couldn't simply raise prices to cover added transport costs.

"It's the best thing that's happened to our business in four years," Harris told The Oregonian newspaper.

Associated Press
Information from: The Oregonian
"K" Line Calls Again at Port of Portland
The Oregonian, July 31, 2008

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