Manufacturers are seeing few orders for new containers de spite the shortage for Asian exports, according to Singamas Container Holdings. Leasing companies were more cautious about constructing new boxes as they were afraid the equipment might end up on a one-way trip to the United States or Europe, Singamas president and chief executive Teo Siong Seng said. 'The Asian financial crisis has made investors more careful about investments,' he said, adding that leasing companies were adopting a wait-and-see attitude, slowing orders slightly. In the past four months, there has been a surge in exports from Asia to Europe and the US, but a sharp decline in imports as countries affected by the currency crisis either stopped buying or cut imports of raw materials. Some lines are charging a repositioning fee to offset costs of returning empty containers to Asia while others have ordered more containers. Mr Teo said Singamas was faring well as its Surabaya plant in Indonesia, which has been operating on two shifts since June last year, has seen 30-40 per cent growth in orders in hand year-on-year. A source said the company, which could produce 1,800 to 2,000 teu (20 ft equivalent units) of containers per month with two shifts operating at full capacity, was making between 1,400 and 1,500 boxes. The source said Singamas' facility, which was not affected much by Indonesia's problems as it paid good wages, was proceeding cautiously because of problems arising from the rupiah devaluation. In China, Mr Teo said the Shanghai Pacific factory had orders to August for dry-freight containers. The company also has orders for collapsible, flatrack containers until July. The company's refrigerated container facility, Shanghai Reeferco, has orders until July. The factory produced 1,571 units last year, but its business was hit by the new competitors in the mainland. Mr Teo said demand was now increasing for 40 ft reefers, fitted with the latest technology which offered better temperature control than older reefer models and environmentally friendly refrigerant. As fruits and vegetable trade increases, demand for reefers capable of maintaining a chill mode of zero to five degrees also is rising while demand for older reefer models, which can handle only frozen products, is falling. Mr Teo said demand for reefers may rise late next year or in early 2000 when older units cannot be used in many countries. Regarding Xiamen Pacific, Mr Teo said Singamas, which had taken over the management in January, was being watched for improved efficiency. The factory is producing 2,500 teu monthly - double its production at the same time last year - and aims to produce 3,000 to 4,000 teu a month. Mr Teo, who also is managing director of Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), said PIL's container newbuilding programme to replace its old equipment would provide about 25 per cent of Singamas' business. PIL expects to build nearly 10,000 dry freight containers and several hundred reefer and flatrack containers this year. Singamas vice-president for finance Sylvia Tam said Shanghai Pacific's dry freight operations recorded 3 per cent net profit last year, despite operating only one shift. The facility produced 42,676 teu last year. Singamas, which has a gearing of 0.8, has US$19 million cash for investments.