Shanghai – A Maersk Line executive said the carrier is seeing container shipping demand from Asia to the U.S. fall off in June after steady growth earlier in the year, but the carrier calls the decline is the result of an inventory correction by retailers.
“We definitely are seeing a short dip in June, but it is not that dramatic,” Soren Karas, vice president and head of South China at the carrier, said on the sidelines at the inaugural Journal of Commerce Shanghai Container Shipping Conference.
“Most say this is a short-term phenomenon,” he said. “It is clear that if the biggest retailers are taking June to correct inventory, that will have an impact.”
The weaker market on North America’s largest shipping trade lane follows falling indicators across the United States in recent weeks, from broad manufacturing measures to rail freight commodities transport data, that raised concerns that the economic recovery is losing steam.
Many shipping industry numbers have shown steady growth, however, including reports that showed Southern California’s ports with their busiest month of the year so far in May.
“I think the reason it is getting attention is that business had been growing every month and many carriers expected another uptick. That expected uptick is not happening,” said Karas.
He said that slack demand is isolated to Asia exports. “It is very much on the trans-Pacific. It is happening to a smaller extent to Europe,” he said.
“The retailers are telling us the growth will come. I would be careful about overdramatizing what is happening in June. We have had very few customers who have come in and say they have to rethink their contracts because the circumstances have changed,” said Karas.