U-Freight, the international freight forwarding and logistics group, has welcomed the positive news about intra-Asian trades featured in a leading industry report as an antidote to the gathering gloom facing much of the world’s business community.

London-based shipping consultant, Drewry Shipping, has published research that shows intra-Asian trade (excluding the Mid-East, Indian subcontinent and Australasia) amounted to 28.6 million teu in 2007, accounting for one fifth of total global trade. This excludes any business moving within its confines on a feeder basis which is bound for markets such as Europe, the US and South America. With China acting as a regional resource centre and with new free-trade deals emerging, there seems little doubt that the intra-Asian trades will continue to grow at a robust pace in the short to mid-term, says the report’s authors. This volume is forecast to reach 50.7 million teu by 2013.

Simon Wong, U-Freight managing director, says: ‘As intra-Asian teu movements are predicted to rise by almost 60 percent in just five years, there is no doubting the dynamism of the intra-Asian trades. These trades are not unnaturally attracting almost all of the major container lines. This is no surprise and is a trend that a freight forwarder like U-Freight will seek to exploit for the benefit of our customers.’

He adds: ‘There is undoubtedly softer US demand at present and likely to be for the foreseeable future. This will be replaced by rising demand in Asia for the region’s products. What was once shipped across the oceans to markets in North America and Europe will now stay within the region as regional GDPs rise and consumer demand sparks new markets into being.’

The market has become very competitive as box lines large and small are attracted to the intra-Asian trades, some operating ships as small as 150 teu, others up to 4,000 teu or more.

‘There is no doubt that for our clients moving goods within the region, this bullish outlook represents a bulwark against some of the more depressing news coming from the world’s stockmarkets. Of course, we acknowledge there are some aspects of this activity that might cause worry. The main one is the lack of backhaul traffic to many locations that translates into a lot of empty running. However, that, of course, is hardly unique to this region,’ says Mr. Wong.

‘The report’s writers are to be congratulated in producing work that shows not all the shipping world is facing the doldrums. What it means for all our staff at U-Freight is that we work with a positive attitude to take full advantage of what this growth offers in this key trading region. Our customers would expect nothing less.’