Leading multipurpose heavy lift operator AAL is set to strengthen its growing presence in the China region, with the appointment of specialist project and steel cargo freight forwarder Central Oceans, as Commercial Agent for Hong Kong and South China. Wolfgang Harms, Deputy Managing Director of AAL commented, ‘Central Oceans took the decision a decade ago to specialise in this very tough sector and has been at the forefront in terms of service quality and reliability ever since. They will represent the commercial interests our both our Tramp & Projects and Liner Services Divisions across Southern China and, in Hong Kong, they will also function as port / husbandry agent.’

The timing of the announcement is significant, with Beijing making clear in its recent 13th five-year plan that it will provide greater economic support to Macau and Hong Kong and help the latter further develop as a global financial, shipping and trading hub. Harms added, ‘Central Oceans will work alongside our own established teams and offices in China to support regional growth and provide local shippers with both tailor- made tramp and scheduled liner solutions.’

Bram van Olphen, Managing Director of Central Oceans in Hong Kong added, ‘We have differentiated ourselves with a young and ambitious team that is focused and trained on the particular needs of the local market – something that’s enabled us to build unique levels of trust and credibility with local customers. The project cargo market inbound Hong Kong is buoyant, with huge infrastructure projects ongoing and planned – the second quarter of 2015 alone saw construction activity grow by 14.5% to HK 55.2 billion. Outbound, South China is a very convenient and competitive gateway for the rest of Asia, USWC, Europe and we are already actively planning for projects through to 2017.’

‘We’ve known AAL for a long time. They chose to invest in their global service, brand and operations when other carriers took a step back and they share the same customer-centric philosophy and growth ambitions that we do. We look forward to working together and delivering more value-added services to our customers.’

Sylvia Mak will manage joint activity for the cooperation, having been with Central Oceans since its agency operations started and herself highly regarded within the region’s shipping community. She is based in Wan Chai, Hong Kong and will liaise directly with AAL’s regional hub office in Shanghai.