The fall in container volumes at the Port of Hong Kong continued in May after four months of decreasing throughput. During May 1.725m teu were handled at the port reflecting a fall of 5.4%
Drilling down, the Kwai Tsing terminals were most deeply affected where volumes fell 9.1% to 1.345m teu compared to a year ago. By contrast midstream operations handled 380,000 teu, up 10.1% compared to May 2017.
The cumulative figure for the first five months of the year now stand at 8.245m teu, a 3% drop compared to the same period in 2017. The decline may worsen as the grade dispute between the US and China looks set to deepen.
In it’s latest report shipping analyst Alphaliner, commenting on the threat to liner shipping said: “The escalating trade tensions between the US and China, triggered by President Trump’s tariff measures against Chinese imports, will hit container volumes between the two countries.”
From a Hong Kong port perspective as a transshipment hub servicing the mainland any trade war between the US and China will greatly exacerbate the already declining container volumes.
China is the largest origin for containerised cargo into the US, accounting for 46% of all container imports during the first five months of 2018.
Alphaliner said US imports from China totalled 4.14m teu during the period from January to May 2018.
Alphaliner sought to qualify its negative assessment of the possible impact, saying: “It is too early to determine the final impact of the new tariff measures and counter-measures that will take effect on July 6, but, since China accounts for 68% of total transpacific container volumes from the Far East, a 10% reduction in imports from China will affect some 6.8% of transpacific volumes, if the goods are not replaced by imports from other Far East origins.”