COSCO sees trans-Pacific market recovery

Updated: 2012-03-07 09:00


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LOS ANGELES - The trans-Pacific shipping market would grow this year on the back of an ongoing economic recovery in the United States and continued growth in China, according to a senior Chinese shipping executive.

Wei Jiafu, chairman of China's biggest shipping company, COSCO, said the facts pointed to obvious improvements in the US and Chinese economies.

Speaking after delivering a keynote speech at the Trans-Pacific Maritime (TPM) annual conference at Long Beach Convention Center, south of Los Angeles, Wei said economic growth in the United States and China, the world's biggest developed and developing economies, would speed the global economy's escape from the shadow of its crisis.

Wei said 2012 would definitely be better than 2011 for the shipping industry, but the pace of recovery might not be fast.

COSCO, the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, is the world's second largest shipping company by fleet size. It owns more than 800 modern merchant vessels with a total tonnage of 56 million deadweight tons and an annual carrying capacity of 400 million tons. COSCO's shipping lines service more than 1,600 ports in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Wei said there were many signals indicating a recovery in the global shipping industry in the coming year, such as the rebound of the US manufacturing industry and real estate market, lower unemployment and rising exports.

The cargo volume of trans-Pacific services, driven by US economic recovery and international trade growth, remained good and provided a sound base for this trunk route in 2012, he said.

US exports have increased significantly in recent years. China's imports from the United States totaled $122.1 billion in 2011, a year-on-year rise of 19.6 percent, according to Chinese Customs statistics.

However, Wei said the liner market is still facing an imbalance between supply and demand, fierce competition and rising costs. He called at the TPM conference for a joint effort by liners and shippers to address the issue.

Wei's optimism about the market was supported by Peter Tirschwell, senior vice president of conference organizer the Journal of Commerce.

"Certainly 2012 in an important respect is looking better than 2011. The economy has started off in 2012 on a very positive note, especially here in the United States," Tirschwell said.

"There is growing optimism here in the US that the economy is improving and as a result of this, the shipping companies like COSCO are going to see more cargos on their ships," he said.

More than 1,800 entrepreneurs and business officials attended this year's TPM conference, a forum for shippers, carriers and intermediaries.

The conference ran a special session, "China: Major economic sourcing and logistics changes within the overwhelmingly dominant source of US container goods", to discuss China-related business prospects, as China accounted for 47 percent of total US containerized imports in the second quarter of 2011.

Wei said China's economy was an engine of the world shipping industry, adding "as a major line between China and the US, COSCO's operation between the two countries in the past 33 years has made a contribution to the bilateral trade."