China's northern ports show signs of recovery
The sound of goosesteps on flagstones is still echoing across the mainland after China’s 60th anniversary celebrations yesterday.
It is the Mid-Autumn Festival here in China, one of the mainland’s two most important holidays (the other being Chinese New Year). Because most places shut down for a week, shippers have been pushing orders to get the goods out before factories close.
This has been good to China’s ports, especially those in the north like the giant Yangshan Deepwater Port that straddles two islands 32km out to sea off Shanghai.
It is the biggest, and busiest port in China, and the global slowdown has had a smaller impact on its terminals than down south in the Guangdong ports of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Yangshan has been handling more than two million boxes a month since June and will most likely record the same number in September.
Up in the Bohai Rim the ports are not exactly breaking out the bubbly, but no one should feel the urge to leap off a bridge, either. Qingdao and Tianjin have posted small increases in throughput every month since June.
Much of the cargo being exported is textiles, toys and furniture and it is in response to a combination of Christmas orders and the replenishment of depleted inventories.
But no matter what throughput volumes are doing, we are not talking of a peak season by any stretch. That is a faint memory in these parts and 2009 figures will quickly be consigned to a bloody corner of the accounts department.
These days, anyone in the transporting of cargo business has to make the most of every little positive number, and it is an indication of how deep in the brown stuff everyone is that when you lose it is worth celebrating, as long as what you lost is less than it was last month.