A NEW shipping service connecting north Queensland with north Asia is a sign of confidence in the local export market, Townsville Port manager trade development Maria James says.

The new service is run by Swire via three new 2750TEU ships.

The first such ship, the Lae Chief, has just called in Townsville for the first time.

Ms James said the improved service offered by Swire Shipping to North Asia meant local businesses could now better plan their inventory, benefit from supply chain efficiencies and enjoy greater connectivity.

“It will also greatly benefit north Queensland’s agricultural industries, including refrigerated containers containing mangoes and other fresh produce,” Ms James said.

“We are very excited about the improved services offered by Swire Shipping and look forward to the benefits that it will bring to the region.”

The enhanced service is to increase Swire Shipping’s shipping frequency into Townsville from 20 days to 14 days.

The Lae Chief dockside in Townsville. Credit: Port of Townsville

Key commodities being traded include imported goods such as mineral concentrates and stock feeds, as well as refined metals, marble blocks, fertiliser and grains from Townsville to Asia.

A plaque presentation ceremony was held to commemorate the arrival of the new ship.

“We are delighted to be able to continue our partnership with Port of Townsville so that we can better serve our customers and the people of North Queensland,” said Swire Shipping genera manager Jeremy Sutton.

“This is a proud moment for Swire Shipping not only because we have launched the fixed day fortnightly service with our first 2,750 TEU newbuild vessel, but also because our improvements will benefit local businesses in the long term.”

Mr Sutton said they looked forward to bringing greater connectivity and convenience to Townsville in the future.

The revised service is to operate from Shanghai calling at Ningbo, Nansha, Hong Kong, Lae, Port Moresby, Townsville and Shanghai.

The NAX service was launched in 2015 to provide a direct link between North Asia, Townsville in Australia and Lae in Papua New Guinea.