(Yicai Global) March 14 -- More time is still needed for China’s container shipping and foreign trade activity to truly recover as container traffic begins to increase after factories got back to work and supply chains returned to normal following the Chinese New Year holiday.
“Our container volume doubled in March from the same period in February, while it only rose about 60 percent in previous years,” Jiang Qing, head of an international freight forwarder specializing in China-US trade services, told Yicai Global. The rebound after the lunar new year break is more evident this year, Jiang noted.
The number of containers shipped ‘Cost and Freight’ and ‘Delivery Duty Paid,’ which means the Chinese seller is responsible for the goods until they reach the port of destination or the buyer, has rebounded strongly. But ‘Free on Board’ shipments, where the seller is only responsible for products until they are loaded on a ship, are picking up more slowly.
US buyers are placing fewer orders, and more of them are taking a wait-and-see approach, while Chinese orders, especially those from cross-border e-commerce platforms and shipped DDP, have been on the rise.
China’s ports had total cargo throughput of more than 32.1 million tons on March 12, down 2.4 percent from a month earlier, according to transport ministry data. But container throughput rose 7.5 percent to 725,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.
Li Lin, the head of a freight forwarding company in Zhejiang province, told Yicai Global that his company has not seen much of a rebound yet, though freight rates on some routes has increased slightly, like that of the China-West US route which has risen by more than USD100.
This month’s rebound is temporary, and the actual recovery may have to wait until the fourth quarter, Jiang predicted. “Some factories received orders for the second half of the year,” he said.
Moreover, while it is unknown to what extent foreign trade can pick up, new energy vehicles, outdoor batteries, and high-end electromechanical products still have high growth rates and are among the main products the firm focuses on, Jiang noted.
In addition to NEVs, companies in energy storage, solar products, and machinery equipment are also rebounding, Zhou Shihao, chief executive of one-stop international logistics platform Where to Ship, told Yicai Global. Even the traditional textile industry is seeing rapid growth.
The overall trend of foreign trade is stabilizing and rebounding, said a manager at Alibaba International Station, a cross-border business-to-business e-commerce platform. Inflation is falling, the inventory turning point is around the corner, and overseas demand is expected to pick up between March and April, the person added.
Overseas demand grew rapidly in February and jumped 30 percent during the online March Expo event, according to data from Alibaba International Station.
Editor: Futura Costaglione