Cargo aboard containerships headed toward the US has made a dramatic shift, with fewer vessels departing China and more leaving from Southeast Asia, reflecting changing consumption patterns in the wake of the pandemic and deteriorating Sino-American ties, reports Nikkei Asia. Freight on US-bound ships from China, including Hong Kong, totaled 876,786 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in October, tumbling 21% on the year and the lowest since May 2020. The decline followed a 13% decrease in September, when TEU fell below the 1 million mark for the first time in 13 months to 932,973.
In contrast, shipments from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are growing, jumping 22% to 415,251 TEU in October after rising 23.1% to 402,882 the previous month. The growth owes, in part, to a rebound from weak exports due to pandemic-related production suspensions.
Overall, freight shipped from Asia to the US fell 9% year-on-year in October, following a 3% decline in September, according to the Tokyo-based researcher Japan Maritime Center. Demand in the US ahead of the holiday shopping season is softer than usual this year as retail stores stockpiled inventories during the pandemic-driven supply chain crunch.