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. A trade director at P&O Nedlloyd
said exports from Europe to Asia grew 20 percent in 1999 against 1998 and are now at pre-Asian crisis
Growth was driven by base commodities instead of luxury items, he explained. 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. However, 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. 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.
Bunker prices, driven ever higher by soaring crude oil, continue to squeeze margins, particularly for shippers with older tonnage.