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Mar. 03, 2014

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56 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE MARCH 3.2014 TRANS-PACIFIC MARITIME SPECIAL REPORT -20% -15% -10% -5% 0% 5% 10% SUZHOU LIANYUNGANG SHANGHAI GUANGZHOU XIAMEN SHENZHEN QINGDAO NINGBO-ZHOUSHAN TIANJIN DALIAN MOST OF CHINA'S top container ports recorded healthy levels of throughput growth in January, according to the latest figures from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, and again, of the top 20 ports in containerized vol - umes, those in northern China outstripped their southern coun- terparts in January. Three of the top four container ports in terms of year-over-year growth rates were located on the Bohai Rim, led by Dalian, up 8.7 percent; Tianjin, up 7 percent; and Qingdao, up 6.8 percent. Ningbo-Zhoushan, up 7 percent, located near the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta, also recorded solid growth as did, surprisingly, Shenzhen with 5.6 percent growth. The latter has seen growth rates slow in recent years. Neighboring Hong Kong, however, saw a 2.7 percent decline in container throughput Source: Shanghai Shipping Exchange TOP CHINA PORTS n Year-over-year percent change in throughput, January 2014 vs. January 2013. in January compared to a year earlier, suggesting its largest terminals were losing ground. In its recent analysis of Hutchison Port Holdings, a major terminal operator at Hong Kong and in south- ern China, Drewry Maritime Equity Research said it expected Hong Kong terminals to grow 6.3 percent in fiscal 2014, but this was from a low base after strikes in 2013. In the medium term, the competitive outlook for the port's terminals is poor. "Overall, Hong Kong port terminals suf fer from structural headwinds of costlier handling and development of mainland terminals," Drewry said. "Additionally, DMER believes that dependence of Hong Kong terminals on volatile transshipment cargoes is a concern, given that transshipment volumes can be under pressure from the effect of the proposed P3 and stressed liner industry financials." By contrast, Drewry was bullish on HPH's main- land China assets at Yantian/Shenzhen, which will benefit from strong east-west traffic as the U.S. and European economies recover. Of the mainland ports, Shanghai led the way in January in terms of total throughput, followed by Shen- zhen, Qingdao, Guangzhou and Tianjin, SSE said. Shanghai's volume grew 2.7 percent year-over-year growth in January, but volume was 11 percent higher than in December 2013. Guangzhou, by contrast, posted healthy 4.4 percent growth compared to January 2013, but an 8.6 percent decline from December 2013. "Recent numbers from China showed a January bounce in both exports and imports," said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian Economic Research. This didn't necessarily mean Asia's widely expected trade rebound has finally arrived, he added. "With financial conditions tightening locally, and investment and consumer spending likely cooling as a result, will exports provide enough thrust for the region to con- tinue to thrive? Perhaps not," Neumann said. "There are cyclical and structural reasons why trade, for decades the engine of Asian prosperity, may not deliver its cus- tomary support this time around." While China's exports rose 10 percent in Janu- ary, this didn't indicate the start of soaring regional exports, according to Neumann. "New export orders, as reported by the official and HSBC's PMIs, contracted over the last two months," he said. "Meanwhile, Tai- wan, another regional bellwether, and one that has recently done better than others thanks to a robust tech cycle, reported falling shipments last month." The implication, he said, was that if exports don't fire up as in past economic cycles, as seems likely, Asian officials will have to keep local demand hum- ming. "That'll require doubling down on reforms," Neuemann said. JOC Contact Mike King at By Mike King Volumes rose at most container ports in January as the migration of cargo to the north accelerated CHINA'S PORTS DELIVER

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