China and intra-Asia can absorb extra boxship capacity.
CONTAINERSHIP operators should look to China and the intra-Asia services that service it as the best area to deploy excess capacity, according to a new report by UK analyst MDS Transmodal.
While container carryings and port throughputs seemed to plummet across the globe last year, consolidated figures in MDS"s January China Trade Briefing show that Chinese box imports actually grew in 2009, despite undergoing ?a shaky end to 2008?.
Loaded maritime imports into the country rose 15% last year to reach 9.9m teu, with vegetables, fruit and nuts increasing by 110% to 973,000 teu, and rubber manufactures by 52% to 412,000 teu.
However, with the trades into China still dominated by large deep sea vessels returning from the shrinking markets of Europe and the US, and carriers desperate to put anything in boxes being repositioned to China, the largest imported commodity remained pulp and waste paper, which grew by 19% to reach 1.5m teu.
It also added that deep sea carriers hoping that 2010 will see a consumer rebound in Europe and the US bringing greater cheer to the Asia-Europe and transpacific trades are set to be disappointed.
?Export volumes are now picking up, and have been doing so since early 2009, entering a new period of growth by the end of last year. But the shape of trade has transformed and most of the recovery is contained on the Pacific side of the globe with growth in exports focused on the Asia-Pacific routes to countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as well as the Indian sub-Continent. Not such good news for the big deep sea lines that have committed tonnage to the main transpacific and Asia-Europe arterial routes.?
This structural trade change will be further compounded if the recession continued in developed western markets, it said.
?If demand in the richer economies is restrained in the next few years, then China"s export-led growth must seek out new markets, perhaps led by higher value products or by moving production inland, away from the higher wage coastal provinces, in order to retain competitiveness.
?The lifestyle changes that are taking place in those same provinces help to account for the rise in imports.?
It suggested carriers should look to develop near-China strategies, because its steep GDP growth is likely to continue.
?Forecasts of double-digit growth remain in parlance when describing China"s GDP growth projections, which remain at plus or minus 10% for the next three years.
?This will be fuelled by the growth in domestic consumption, and shipping lines might be well advised to look at strategies for capacity deployment on routes to China"s growing trade partners.?