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TAIPEI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Taiwan's government said on Wednesday it will offer to lend struggling local shippers NT$60 billion ($1.9 billion) at below-market interest rates, to help them cope with the industry's worst downturn.
"The global shipping industry is going through a tough time. These loans are part of the government's efforts to help local shippers," said Yeh Hsieh-lung, a deputy director general of Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).
Shippers with accumulated losses in the past four quarters will be qualified to apply for the loans, Yeh said.
South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd filed for court receivership in August after losing the support of its banks, setting the stage for its assets to be frozen as ports from China to Spain denied access to its vessels.
A bankruptcy for Hanjin Shipping would be the largest ever for a container shipper in terms of capacity, according to consultancy Alphaliner.
Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp welcomed the government's support.
"Shippers worldwide are suffering... It is necessary for the government to offer support," said Golden Kou, an Evergreen Vice President.
The loans will be available for Taiwanese shippers early in 2017, Yeh said, adding the last time the government provided support for the industry was in 2008. (Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)