Shipping container trade from Europe to Asia grew by 20 percent in 1999, but only by five percent for trade the other way, a senior shipping executive said. Tom Boardley
, director of Europe-Asia trade at Anglo-Dutch group P&O Nedlloyd
, said exports from Europe to Asia grew 20 percent in 1999 against 1998 and are now at pre-Asian crisis
"Growth has been driven by base commodities rather than luxury items," Boardley said. A weakening euro at the end of last year stimulated exports growth, he added. Japan remains
the largest import market, accounting for a quarter of all European goods heading to Asia on container ships. But, Boardley said the highest percentage growth was seen in trade to China
, Taiwan and Korea
Growth in container trade from Asia to Europe slowed
to five percent compared with 15 percent in 1997-98 due to a combination of factors.
"There was a tailing off of business from Japan, Singapore
, Taiwan and Indonesia," said Boardley.
Japan and Singapore's fall-off was viewed as part of a longer term trend while the drop in business from Taiwan
and Indonesia were probably specific and short-term - respectively the earthquake in September and political unrest. Bunker prices, driven ever higher by soaring crude oil, continues to squeeze margins.