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Mixed fortunes for Asian container traffic

The Japan International Freight Forwarders Association (JIFFA) has released mixed container volume reports from several regions on 2 March 2020, with Japan exports to China hitting record lows, and a slump in trade between China and Taiwan, but Chinese trades to Europe achieving a record high.

Exports of containerised shipments from Japan to China plunged 13.8% from the previous year to 8.816 million tonnes in 2019, hitting a record low since statistics were first compiled in 2008, according to the Japan Maritime Center (JMC), a public interest incorporated foundation authorized by the Government of Japan.

Meanwhile, inbound containers from China to Japan managed to remain nearly unchanged, decreasing 0.6% to 19.506 million tonnes. In terms of value, the former shrank 8.3% to US$74 billion, and the latter, 3.2% to US$120 billion.

In December 2019, containers from Japan to China fell 8.4% to 780,060 tonnes, registering a year-on-year contraction for the 10th consecutive month, according to trade statistics from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) unveiled by the JMC. Cargo was valued at US$6.98 billion, down 1.5%. Imports from China to Japan waned 3% to 1.571 million tonnes, incurring a year-on-year decrease for three months in a row. On a value scale, they declined 7.3% to US$9.8 billion, posting a year-on-year cutdown for five months running.

Container movement on the Asia-Europe trade reached all-time highs in both directions in 2019, according to statistics provided by Container Trades Statistics, Ltd. (CTS), an organisation that delivers container shipping data since 2008.

The Japan Maritime Center (JMC) recently unveiled in a report it had compiled from CTS figures that outbound shipments from Asia to Europe increased 2.6% from the previous year to 16,602,473TEU. Imports from Europe to Asia grew a more favorable 6.3% to 8,129,677TEU.

By origin, westbound containers from Asia to Europe swelled across the board. Those from Northeast Asia went up 0.3% to 2,044,666TEU; from China (including Hong Kong), up 3.3% to 12,072,432TEU in total; and from Southeast Asia, up 0.9% to 2,485,297TEU.

By destination, shipments destined to North Europe amounted to 10,556,796 TEU, up 2.9%; to the western Mediterranean, 2,878,764 TEU, up 1.6%; and to the eastern Mediterranean, 3,166,913 TEU, up 2.3%.

As for eastbound containers from Europe to Asia, meanwhile, those from North Europe were up 8.5% to 5,682,774 TEU; from the western Mediterranean, up 1.4% to 1,208,732 TEU; and from the eastern Mediterranean, up 1.4% to 1,238,171 TEU.

By destination, imports to Northeast Asia numbered 1,669,070TEU, up 2.3%; to China (including Hong Kong), 4,412,042TEU, up 9.8%; and to Southeast Asia, 2,047,959TEU, up 2.5%.

Containerised shipments transported directly between Taiwan and China decreased to 195,742TEU in January, according to figures compiled by the former’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).

The four major ports in Taiwan saw decreases in container lifting from a year earlier at all but Taipei. More specifically, Kaohsiung handled 93,890TEU, down 18.82%; Taichung, 43,528TEU, down 4.05%; and Keelung, 7,552TEU, down 13.5%. In contrast, containers to and from Taipei increased a slight 0.78% to 10,772TEU.

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