Expressing support for Palestine amidst the ongoing Gaza conflict, Malaysia has officially barred all Israeli-flagged vessels, as well as ships affiliated with the Haifa-based ocean carrier ZIM, from entering its ports. The decision by the Malaysian government is a symbolic gesture, given the relatively limited impact it will have on the already tumultuous liner sector.
ZIM, the affected ocean carrier, has been operating only two services that included calls at the Malaysian port of Port Kelang – the East Med – Asia ‘ZMP’ and the China – Southeast Asia – USEC ‘ZXB’. Presently, the lone container ship under the Israeli flag, the 4,992 TEU ZIM VIRGINIA, is the subject of the ban.
Responding to the ban, ZIM has promptly adjusted its ‘ZMP’ service. The Far East – Med loop, originally navigating via the Cape of Good Hope, has now incorporated stops at Cai Mep, Colombo, and Derince while omitting Port Kelang from its rotation. The revised route encompasses key ports such as Busan, Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Dachan Bay, Colombo, Haifa, Ashdod, Mersin, Derince, Yarimca, Ambarli, Dachan Bay, and Xiamen.
While the updated rotation for the ‘ZXB’ loop is yet to be disclosed, ZIM has the flexibility to replace Port Kelang with neighboring transit hubs like Singapore or Colombo.
Aside from the affected East-West loops, ZIM operates various services, including intra-Asia, Far East – ISC, Far East – ANZ, and Far East – Africa networks that cover Malaysian ports. However, these services are facilitated through slot arrangements with other carriers.
The Malaysian government has also declared its intention to prohibit the loading of cargoes from its ports onto vessels bound for Israel. Notably, this restriction holds minimal significance, as there is currently no liner service directly connecting Malaysia and Israel after ZIM withdrew.
Local reports indicate that approximately 4,000 transshipment containers managed by ZIM are stranded at Port Kelang. With ZIM vessels unable to dock at the port, the company is compelled to engage other carriers to transport these containers out of Malaysia to their intended destinations. The ban, while primarily symbolic, underscores Malaysia’s stance on the ongoing conflict and its commitment to supporting the Palestinian cause.