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The head of one of Asia’s biggest ocean shipping companies has warned that governments may need to intervene to “restore order” to a global logistics market tormented by chronic delays, supply chain disruption and record container rates.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Takeshi Hashimoto, president of Mitsui OSK Lines, which is part of Ocean Network Express, one of the world’s biggest shipping alliances, said that the industry had miscalculated how long the disorder of the coronavirus pandemic would last.

While some shipping companies had predicted normalisation early next year after the initial shock of the crisis, Mitsui has recently extended its forecast to the end of 2022.

Opinions within the shipping industry vary significantly on whether greater government intervention is warranted, and the form it might take.

Many executives are strongly opposed to the idea, but Hashimoto said that the severity of the situation meant that some form of assistance or co-ordination might be necessary to bring an end to the shipping crisis.

“If left entirely to the market economy, individual companies and individuals all doing their utmost to find the best solution for themselves will result in more and more turmoil and an out-of-control situation,” he said.

Hashimoto added that while it was critical to respect the spirit of the free-market economy and competition, at the same time, global shipping was a kind of infrastructure industry on which economies relied.

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Oliver Bolt

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