NYK Line (Hong Kong) expects a 14 per cent rise in container throughput this year for all trades, chairman and managing director T. Watanabe, says. He said the carrier, which handled 350,000 teu last year, expected to handle about 400,000 teu this year. 'As far as the US and Europe trades are concerned, it depends upon the economic situation,' he added. Although NYK's liftings to Europe rose 15 per cent last year compared to 1994, the rate of growth this year was expected to slow to about 10 per cent, Mr Watanabe said. NYK's performance last year was due to a strong increase in spaces, backed by aggressive sales for trade with Europe, he said. NYK managed to record a 20 per cent growth rate overall, he added. Mr Watanabe said he expected trade from Asia to North America to rise by only 5 per cent this year because of a poor US economy. NYK in Japan had transferred its headquarters to Hong Kong to be nearer to its customers, Mr Watanabe added. 'This move allows us to make quick decisions and provide accurate information to our customers,' he said, adding that NYK intended to raise the level of service to its clients in the territory. Mr Watanabe said the China market would grow by about 20 per cent this year as some Japanese companies were to start production there. NYK China, a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai, was formed as a branch to handle mainland business and an application had been made for offices in Tianjin and Qingdao to be awarded branch status, he said. 'Eventually we will extend branch status to Shenzhen, Nanjing, Ningbo and Xiamen, depending on the volume of business,' he said. He pointed out that US shipping lines and Denmark's Maersk Line already had a head start in the China market and said NYK would like to catch up. 'NYK has also decided to make direct calls to Shenzhen for the Europe trade in June, but we have not decided which port to go to yet,' Mr Watanabe said, adding that the calls would be made through the grand alliance grouping. The grand alliance groups Hapag Lloyd, Neptune Orient Lines, NYK and P&O Containers. 'We need to aggressively study the Shenzhen call to the North American market,' Mr Watanabe said. American President Lines, Sea-Land and Maersk Line presently call at Yantian port in southern China. NYK has investments in a warehouse joint venture in Dalian through a wholly owned subsidiary that started operations last year. Mr Watanabe expressed optimism that the China market, with 1.2 billion people, would grow in the near future through increasing demand for cars, garments and electrical appliances as standards of living improved. 'I personally am positive and optimistic of China's growth in the next five to 10 years,' he said.