APL has strengthened its offering for customers in the North Vietnam market with a new Haiphong – China Express (HCX) service, commencing on 8 March 2006. The new service will depart from Haiphong on early Friday morning and will call at Hong Kong on Saturday and Chiwan on Sunday, before returning to Haiphong on Wednesday. These calls offer extended reach to Asia, Australia, Europe, North, Central and South America. APL Vietnam Managing Director, Tan Hua Joo said the new service will meet customer needs for enhanced service reliability and more capacity as trade rapidly increases. “APL’s Haiphong-China Express (HCX) service offers customers the greater stability of a dedicated fixed weekly sailing, combined with some of the industry’s best transit times for North Vietnam exports and imports.” Mr. Tan said. The dedicated, fixed weekly sailing has a midday cut-off time from Haiphong every Thursday. Via connections in Hong Kong and Chiwan, it will offer one of the fastest transit times in the industry to key markets. For North America, it will serve Seattle in 13 days and Los Angeles in 15 days while cargo to Europe will reach Rotterdam in 23 days and Southampton in 24 days. In 2005, Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 8.4% helping to push the value of Vietnam’s exports up by 24% to $US32 billion. With export growth forecast at 18% for the year ahead, and exports of electronic goods, apparel, footwear and furniture continuing to grow particularly strongly, customers in these segments will benefit from the increased reliability offered by the new HCX service.