NEW DELHI: Carriers have introduced 10 new services on the intra-Asia trade so far this year to capture rising container throughput in the world’s largest trade that Drewry says will report annual liftings of close to 30 million TEU in 2017.
The container analyst said port throughput in Asia was expected to grow by 4.1 percent this year that will translate into 28.5 million TEU, according to its outlook that was based on revised Container Trades Statistics figures for intra-Asia.
The latest CTS numbers showed that intra-Asia volume (excluding China domestic trade) in January-May grew by 6.3 percent with the five-month volume reaching 12.7 million TEU. Chinese domestic volume between January and May added another 3.5 million TEU, up 1.7 percent year-over-year.
CTS reviewed its first quarter data that included a significant downgrade in container growth numbers that initially had container trade within Asia rising by 23.5 percent compared to the first three months of 2016.
“Despite the downgrade, CTS’ data helps us to gauge Intra-Asia’s position relative to other container trades and with annual liftings in the region of 30 million TEU, the trade is the largest in the world ahead of the two-way trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe routes. It was also the second fastest growing, according to CTS, rising by 4 percent in 2016,” Drewry said in its Container Insight Weekly.
In 2017, the International Monetary Fund has forecasted the global economy to grow by 3.5 percent and Drewry believes container throughput will reverse the trend of the last two years and actually surpass GDP growth.
“Growth will be seen in every region with the outlook for Asia the second best, behind South Asia,” the analyst said. “Intra-Asia might not be as hot as originally thought, but it will still make a significant contribution to world container throughput growth this year.”
Four of the new services on intra-Asia have been launched by new container shipping entrant SM Line that also has three slot exchange services. The Korean carrier has deployed seven ships on the services that connect Northeast and Southeast Asia.
SM Line President Kim Chil-bong and Senior Vice President Ki Hun Kwon said, “We want to launch our own services to India and Indonesia and to add services to Southeast Asian markets where demand is strong. Our customers are looking for more capacity on services to Vietnam and Thailand, where we currently offer just one weekly service.”
Cosco and Yang Ming deploy the largest tonnage on the trade and have merged two services into a single butterfly operation using nine vessels with an average size of 4,250 TEU. The service connects Shanghai with Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.