Container makers eye niches
The shift in container manufacture to China and Southeast Asia has forced traditional container producers to work on niche marketing and to add value to products, according to Britain-based Ocean Shipping Consultants.
The changes were brought about by changing cost structures and demand centres, they said.
'With the benefit of increasing empty box demand for exports and low labour costs, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and India are expected to increase output, with South Korea and Japan continuing to decline as producers,' the report said.
'Taiwan is also forecast to increase output to some extent because of its continuing demand for export containers.' The report said the combination of low output costs, booming regional container trade and sizeable net manufacturing exports would generate domestic demand for empty boxes.
This would ensure the continued and growing dominance of east Asia in the world's container manufacturing industry, it said.
The consultants said: 'To meet forecast fleet numbers, annual additions to the world box fleet over 1995-2000 will need to increase by 22 per cent, from 850,000 teus to 1.04 million teus, providing a cumulative increase to the fleet of 4.77 million teus over 1996-2000.' They said the average rate of box replacement, which fell from 6.6 per cent of the global fleet during 1986 to 1990 to 5.9 per cent from 1991 to 1995, was expected to continue falling to an estimated 4.2 per cent in 2005 and 3.7 per cent in 2010.
The report forecast 700,000 teus would be needed to maintain the world's container fleet in 2000, compared with 430,000 teus in 1995 and 25,000 in 1986.
It said the cumulative output for replacement would amount to a projected 3.2 million teus between 1996 and 2000.
'The forecast replacement production in 2000 represents a rise of 63 per cent over the 1995 level,' it said.
The report said the region's share of global box output had grown from 71.7 per cent in 1987 to 79.9 per cent in 1995.
It is forecast to rise to 81.7 per cent in 2000, between 82.5 and 82.9 per cent in 2005 and 83.4 to 83.9 per cent in 2010, based on different growth scenarios.
The consultants said the mid-year container fleet was projected to rise by 51 per cent from 9.2 million teus in 1995 to 13.9 million teus in 2000.
In the first-case scenario in more favourable trade conditions, the report said there would be a growth of 19.7 million teus in 2005 and 26.7 million teus in 2010.
In more protectionist trade conditions, the report said the equivalent projections were 18 million teus and 22.5 million teus respectively. These represented growths from 2000 to 2010 of between 61.8 and 92.4 per cent.