Maersk Line, the world's biggest container shipper, is to end services to and from ten Chinese ports from September in a move the global logistics firm says is part of adjustments to services but comes amid cost cutting moves currently being made by the group.

The services will stop at ports in Chizhou, Luzhou, Yingkou, Jinzhou, Rizhao, Yueyang, Lijiao, Taiping, Jiaoxin and Nansha old port. In a statement, Maersk, a unit of Danish conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk, said the move should not be interpreted as a change of strategy.

"We frequently review the ports/terminals that we service in China, including the inland ports where we provide transport solutions through Connecting Carrier Agreement. We focus on the ports where we can offer the most benefits that create growth, better service and opportunities for our customers. 

It adds: "The decision to terminate the 'Through Bill of Lading' service at some inland ports since 1 September should not be interpreted as change of company strategy, since it is just a normal adjustment of inland service we provide to our customers."

Maersk says the impact of the move will be minimal given it still provides import and export service for its customers through adjacent ports. A spokesperson told just-style the ten ports have loaded a combined 300 FFE (forty foot containers) to its network so far this year. On average, Maersk ships 12m full containers each year. 

The group says it is looking into the possibility of providing service at other inland ports, in order to further optimise its inland service network.

Maersk Line is currently represented in 41 locations in China. In recent years, however, Chinese growth has slowed and some reports suggest the move to cut services at ten of the country's ports is part of a cost cutting move by the group.

Indeed, in its second-quarter trading update today (12 August), parent company Maersk said the company continues reducing costs in response to "challenging supply-demand imbalances".

Earnings plummeted to US$118m from $1.1bn in the year ago period, negatively impacted by average container freight rates and oil prices. Sales were down 16% to $8.9bn.