Cargo processed at South Korean seaports has grown at a slower-than-expected pace this year in the wake of an intensifying trade row between the United States and China, data showed Friday.
Container cargo handled at South Korea’s largest port of Busan stood at 12.44 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the first seven months, up 4 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the port authority.
The number accounts for 57.9 percent of its full-year target of 21.50 million TEUs. To attain the goal, cargo handling must grow at a monthly average of 4.9 percent or more.
Of the total, export-import cargo came to 10.41 million TEUs, up 0.5 percent from a year earlier but well below the authority’s monthly growth target of 2.2 percent.
The port authority attributed the slowdown to the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, which resulted in a decrease in South Korean exports of intermediate goods.
Incheon, South Korea’s second-largest port, was in a similar situation. In the first half of the year, cargo freight processed in Incheon, west of Seoul, reached 1.52 million TEUs, up 3.7 percent from a year ago.
Incheon’s full-year cargo handling target has been set at 3.3 million TEUs, up 8.2 percent from last year, but the goal appears to be out of reach in light of the current trend, its port authority said.
The slower increase was ascribed to a drop in exports to China, which accounts for 60 percent of its cargo handling, amid the trade conflict between Washington and Beijing.
Meanwhile, the southwestern port of Gwangyang posted a solid 8.5 percent on-year increase to 1.34 million TEUs in the first half of the year. Gwangyang remains relatively unscathed by the trade row as it serves as a stopover port for freight ships.
Experts painted a gloomy picture for the remainder of the year, saying domestic and external conditions may turn for the worse for the coming months in the wake of the trade war.
Sea News, September 24