The Chinese government has published figures showing that, in spite of the major investments in logistics infrastructure which are currently being pushed ahead, freight volumes have declined significantly since last year. Exports in April were down 22.6% on 2008, whilst import fell by 3%.
At the same time, three major shipping lines announced huge losses in the first Quarter of 2009. This is undoubtedly related to the collapse in demand in China which has resulted in excess capacity. In fact the global shipping fleet has been reduced by about 10%, but the world economic conditions have encouraged Western importers to think twice about continuing to source their products from China. Manufacturers are trying to shorten the supply chain and keep lower stocks by importing from countries such as Hungary and Poland.
This may result in a major re-structuring of the global trade structure, and therefore of the shipping industry.