American President Lines Ltd. is taking delivery of its first order of shipping containers made in China.
The 500 20-foot-long dry cargo containers were manufactured by the Guangdong Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Co. and are being delivered to Hong Kong, where they will be fed into the APL system.Delivery should be completed by the end of this month, said Lorenz P. Robinson, senior vice president of operations for the Oakland, Calif.-based transportation company. APL is a subsidiary of American President Cos.
Mr. Robinson said the containers cost $2,000 to $2,500 a unit. APL purchased the Chinese-made containers as part of its policy to encourage alternate sources of production, he said.
This is a very small order for the company, which buys thousands of containers each year. As of Dec. 31, 1987, the company had approximately 77,000 containers including 4,600 refrigerated units.
According to an official at a container-leasing company who asked not to be named, China produced approximately 20,000 dry containers in 1987, compared with 220,000 containers made in South Korea and 80,000 in Taiwan, the two largest producers.
He said prices for containers have risen, with most manufacturers experiencing full production schedules in 1989.
The high demand for containers reflects overall growth in trade and the introduction of larger ships by several carriers. U.S. container lessors are
finding containers expensive this year because of overall demand and the falling U.S. dollar.
The average life of a container is about 12 years, he said. China has also started offering some refrigerated containers, although he did not know how good their quality was.
Peter Johnson, the San Francisco-based Hong Kong government trade promotion representative, said he is aware of a handful of Chinese container manufacturers in southern China but was not aware how large a push this represented for the country or what Hong Kong's role was.