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$1m interest-free loan lures MSC to Fremantle

SWISS-based container shipping giant the Mediterranean Shipping Company has secured close to a $1 million from the Court Government to assist with relocating its Australasian shipping office to Fremantle.

MSC, which is Fremantle port’s biggest client, has obtained a $950,000 interest free loan over two years as part of the State Government’s Industry Incentive Scheme.

The Geneva-based company makes about 130 ship visits annually and has officially called Fremantle its Australasian base for communications and logistics since January 1.

It runs services to Asia, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand and Fremantle is MSC’s first and last port of call in Australia.

Staff at MSC’s McCabe Street office in North Fremantle has steadily increased from 23 to 87 people over the past few months.

MSC’s corporate services manager Ross McAlpine said Fremantle, which was in a better time zone for dealing with Asia and South Africa, presented a logical base for communication and logistics planning.

Corporate head office remained in Sydney and marketing would be handled at branch offices.

“Truthfully, shippers will get the same service as they did before,” Mr McAlpine said.

“The main advantages lie in the amount of money that will be injected into the local economy.”

MSC’s relocation will create about 60 permanent jobs and inject $23 million into the WA economy over its first five years of operation.

The news has been welcomed by the State’s trading community which had to contend with a steady deterioration of local representation for shipping companies over the past few years.

Fremantle Port Authority manager of commercial development Glenn Stephens said advances in electronic commerce had seen some shipping lines centralising their documentation and customer service activities in the eastern states.

WA Shippers Council president Phil Nixon said a local control centre for shipping should ensure “awkward” issues were resolved faster than they were through east coast shipping offices.

“MSC’s WA customers will now be in the same time zone as the shipping office that prepares their documentation and plans,” Mr Nixon said.

“That gives greater power to the business community which suffers considerable discomfort due to time zone issues between here and the east coast.”

Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan said it was essential to maintain significant infrastructure for the shipping and freight industry.

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