TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's Evergreen Group on Friday ordered 10 containerships from Japan's largest shipbuilder, the second similar deal in a month, as it eyes trade growth potential from a planned regional trade bloc.
The order with Japan's Imabari Shipbuilding brought to 20 the number of 2,800-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) B-type container vessels Evergreen has ordered in a month.
The world's fourth largest shipping firm signed a similar contract with Taiwan's CSBC Corp last month.
No exact value of the two deals were revealed, but according to a stock filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange by Evergreen, each vessel is to cost at least US$36 million, the combined value of the two deals estimated at least US$720 million.
The fleet of 20 ships, all due to be delivered by the first half of 2019, will be deployed in intra-Asia trade, according to Evergreen.
"With the RCEP expecting to take effect, the trade barriers between Asean members and China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and India will fall off," said Evergreen group's vice chairman Bronson Hsieh while clinching the deal last month.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member countries of Asean and the six countries with which Asean has existing free trade pacts.
"Evergreen's decision to build the new fleet of ships are eyeing the growth opportunities of the anticipated free trade pact," he added.
The ships, to be equipped with an electronic-controlled fuel injection engine, can reduce emissions by around 20 percent in comparison with vessels of traditional designs, Evergreen said.