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Trade war between China and the US could hit 2.5% of global box trade

BIMCO’s president Anastasios Papagiannopoulos has called for China and the US to hold off from a trade war as data emerges of the potential hit container shipping could take from the escalating tit-for-tat between Washington and Beijing.

Papagiannopoulos, who heads Greek dry bulk firm Common Progress, said in a statement: “The global shipping industry naturally gets concerned when two nations of huge importance to most shipping sectors get in the ring to fight a trade war – gloves off. I am still hopeful that world trade will not implode and encourage the involved parties to avoid a brutal and harmful escalation that will affect the shipping industry badly.”

The US is China’s largest trading partner measured by value – and China is the largest one-country trading partner that the US has. Talk of a trade war between the two nations has been growing in recent weeks.

BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst Peter Sand said any trade war between the two nations would be felt most keenly on the transpacific westbound container tradelane.

“The shipping industry is concerned with a lower level of US containerised imports which may become a result of a trade war between the US and China. If fronthaul volumes go down, oversupply of ships develops causing utilisation to drop alongside freight rates and earnings on the transpacific networks,” Sand commented.

Approximately 1.8m teu of Chinese imports from the US and up to 3m teu exported from China into the US will be subject to higher tariffs, according to Drewry’s senior manager for container research, Simon Heaney. Nearly 2.5% of total global containerised trade could be affected.

“As the countdown continues we get ever closer to disruptions – not just of container shipping but also dry bulk shipping in the case of steel, aluminium and soya beans,” Sand added.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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