SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s top economic policymaker said Wednesday that he expected Hanjin Shipping vessels marooned offshore of Long Beach, California, will be able to offload cargo this week.
Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said at a government meeting that he expects the cargo crisis caused by Hanjin’s slide toward bankruptcy will begin to ease this week, according to a ministry statement.
South Korea’s biggest ocean shipping line says it is seeking protection from its creditors in dozens of countries. A U.S. federal judge has temporarily granted Hanjin’s request for protection from its creditors and scheduled a hearing for Friday. South Korea’s government expects a ruling in Hanjin’s favor, said Kim Hyun-jung, an official at the foreign affairs ministry.
Hanjin’s creditors rejected a rescue plan for the shipping company and refused to provide more funds. The move sent retailers and other companies worldwide scrambling to get at cargo on Hanjin vessels that have been stranded outside ports.
While Hanjin Shipping has over 6 trillion won ($5.5 billion) in debt, it also needs to pay mounting fees to resolve the cargo crisis that sent shockwaves to the global economy ahead of the fall shopping season. Hanjin Group, the parent of the cash-strapped ship liner, has promised $90 million to help relieve the cargo crisis by covering some of those costs.
Local media reports said Wednesday that a South Korean court has asked Hanjin Shipping’s main creditor, the state-owned Korea Development Bank, for emergency funding.
Port workers in Busan and Hanjin Shipping labor union officials held rallies Wednesday, urging the government, creditors and Hanjin Group to save the shipping company.