Forecast warns Japanese ports of stalling volume growth

Forecast warns Japanese ports of stalling volume growth

Port of Tokyo. Credit: Yuukin

Nittsu Research Institute and Consulting Inc. expects Japan’s container trade to remain almost flat in fiscal year 2016, edging up only 0.1 percent from a year earlier to 11.6 million 20-foot equivalent units because of economic uncertainty both at home and abroad.

The forecast is a downward revision from NRIC’s previous prediction of an increase of 1.3 percent, but if realized still represents the first growth in Japan’s container trade in three years on a fiscal-year basis. After falling 1.1 percent in fiscal 2014, the container trade is estimated to have shrunk 3.9 percent to 11.6 million TEUs in fiscal 2015, NRIC said.

NRIC is a subsidiary of Nippon Express Co., Japan’s largest international freight forwarder. NRIC’s outlook covers Japan’s eight major ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Shimizu, Yokkaichi and Hakata. Together they account for nearly 90 percent of the nation’s overall containerized trade with foreign countries.

In fiscal 2016, loaded container exports are projected to drop 0.4 percent to 4.7 million TEUs. NRIC had previously forecast an increase of 0.9 percent. 

After rising 1 percent in fiscal 2014, loaded exports from the eight major ports are estimated to have declined 3.3 percent to 4.75 million TEUs in fiscal 2015, NRIC said.

NRIC blamed weak overseas demand for Japan-made products on a global economic slowdown led by China, Japan’s biggest trading partner.

In fiscal 2016, loaded imports are projected to climb 0.4 percent to 6.8 million TEUs. NRIC had previously forecast an increase of 1.6 percent.

After sliding 2.6 percent in fiscal 2014, loaded imports are estimated to have sunk 4.2 percent to 6.8 million TEUs in fiscal 2015, NRIC said.

Japan’s economy is now teetering on the brink of a recession as consumer spending, a key engine of growth that accounts for about 60 percent of the nation’s GDP, has yet to recover from a sales tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014.

NRIC said that consumer spending and corporate capital spending, another driver of economic growth, will recover somewhat in fiscal 2016, but not enough to boost container imports significantly.

Contact Hisane Masaki at yiu45535@nifty.com.