Israeli liner operator Zim has teamed up with Vietnam’s Hai An Transport and Stevedoring (Hats) in a new joint venture targeting Vietnamese manufacturers.

The new operation, Lotus Link, will start domestic shipping services in Vietnamese ports in March.

The Haiphong-based company will initiate its first sailings in March using Vietnamese-flag vessels.

The vessels will serve Ho Chi Minh City and Danang and other ports where direct services are limited, the companies announced.

Hats was established in 2009 and has grown to be one of the larger liner operators in Vietnam, where it is listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.

The company sees the partnership with Zim as a “significant development for both companies”, said director general Mark Vu.

“It is especially meaningful for Hai An as it celebrates its 10th anniversary in domestic shipping this year and plans to expand its regional operation,” he said.

New York-listed, Haifa-based Zim has in the past two years made no secret of its plans to expand its operations in the intra-Asia trade, either through partnerships or acquisitions.

The company sees the partnership with Hai An as a “milestone venture”, said Abraham Elias, Zim manager for Vietnam.

“With the rapid expansion of manufacturing activities to satellite provinces, this joint venture provides Zim with the operational flexibility to extend its reach and expand the scope of services offered to its customers.”

“We hope to support the development of industries by providing valuable access to international markets through Zim’s global coverage,” he said.

Zim is also expanding its services between South East Asia and Australia. The company is launching a new Thailand Fremantle Express service to connect ports in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia with the Australia market.

Zim is also poised to take delivery of newbuildings destined for the transatlantic trades.

The company is set to deploy the 11,850-teu Thitti Bhum (built 2023), which was delivered to Thai-owner Regional Container Lines earlier this month.

The newbuilding, to be renamed Zim Bangkok, will operate on a service from Asia to the east coast of the US.