Israeli shipper offers service to South America Zim Israel cited in port's rebound

October 07, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

An Israeli shipping line has begun service between Baltimore and South America, in a move that Maryland Port Administration officials contend shows that the port of Baltimore is continuing to gain ground slowly in spite of the recession.

Zim Israel Navigation Co. Ltd. of Haifa, Israel, will provide service every two weeks to the South Locust Point Marine Terminal, connecting Baltimore to ports in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay, the MPA said yesterday at its board meeting in the World Trade Center.

"We're expecting to see significant progress from the first day on in terms of frequency and volume," said Adrian G. Teel, the MPA's executive director. The first ship is currently in port.

Zim Israel officials cited pragmatic motives for putting Baltimore on its list of ports to call on.

"A large amount of general cargo moves through the port," said Joseph Merante, senior vice president of Zim-America Israeli Shipping Co., Zim Israel's general agent in North America. "We thought we would be able to garner a good percentage of that trade by serving Baltimore."

The MPA said Zim Israel is the eighth steamship line in the past 18 months to add service to Baltimore or to "significantly expand" existing service. Another seven lines have begun calling at the port since the end of 1990.

"There will be other developments [with another shipping line], hopefully within the week," Mr. Teel told the MPA board.

MPA spokesman Ray Feldmann said the port had a solid third quarter that might help it match 1991's performance through the first nine months of the year. Traffic dropped about 5 percent during the first half of 1992, a development Mr. Feldmann attributed to the slow economic recovery. The third-quarter results will narrow that gap and might close it, he said.

Mr. Teel said the port's market share among East Coast ports has increased over the past 18 months. He said New York was the only other U.S. port on the Atlantic with a rising market share. Competitors with Baltimore, such as Norfolk, Va., Philadelphia and Charleston, S.C., have lost share, he said.

"There has been good cooperation and communication between labor and management here in the port," Mr. Teel said. "We also have some real top-notch facilities and we've been aggressive in marketing them."

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