The many industries that make up the world of freight have undergone tremendous change over the past several decades. Each Friday, FreightWaves explores the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.
The following is an excerpt from the June 2003 edition of American Shipper.
Unknown impact of SARS
Ray Miles, chief executive officer of CP Ships, has added his voice to growing worries in the international shipping industry about the potential impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
“If things go on, that could begin to have an economic impact, particularly on Asian economies,” Miles said. “That could in the end be very serious,” he added.
The concerns expressed by Miles following a recent warning by Jacques Saade, the chairman of CMA CGM about the SARS crisis. “If not brought under control, this SARS virus may lead to a catastrophe for the shipping industry,” Sadde told the recent Containerisation International conference.
Industry concerns appear to focus on two aspects: the health of seafarers who go to affected areas in Asia; and the potential impact on international trade if buyers stop traveling to Hong Kong, China and other sourcing countries, to inspect and order goods.
The question is: If trade fairs in Hong Kong are cancelled, will buyers of made-in-Asia goods continue to import from Asia?
Miles noted that the relocation of manufacturing to Asia, including China, has been a “key factor” in international business in recent years. He cautioned that CP Ships has so far seen “very little” impact on its business from the SARS epidemic.
In May, P&O Nedlloyd also said the outbreak of SARS has not had an impact on its cargo volumes to date. But China has been the driving force behind the growth of cargo volumes in international container shipping.
As a carrier, CP Ships is less exposed to potential economic problems in Asia than the Asian shipping lines. China accounts for about 8% of CP Ships’ total container volume.