Freight volumes in and out of Japan’s busiest port, the Port of Tokyo, have declined in the first six months of 2019 compared to the first six months of 2018, new comprehensive data shows.
Activity at the Port of Tokyo
The Port of Tokyo is Japan’s busiest container port with just under 4.6 million twenty foot equivalent units of throughput. Both import and export freight volumes at the Port of Tokyo have decreased in the first six months of 2019 compared to the first six months of 2018, according to recently released data from the Tokyo metropolitan government.
The total number of oceangoing ship port calls Tokyo in the first half of 2019 was 11,749, which was 296 less than in the first half of 2018. The number of port calls by full container ships declined too. There were 2,353 ports calls by full box ships in the first half of 2019, which was 126 less than in the first half of 2018.
Exports from Tokyo
Containerized export freight volumes at the Port of Tokyo in the first half of 2019 stood at 5.92 million metric tonnes. A metric tonne is equivalent to 2,204.6 U.S. pounds; 0.91 metric tonnes also equals one U.S. short ton of 2,000 pounds. So the Port of Tokyo’s containerized export volumes stood at just over 6.5 million U.S. short tons in the first half of the year.
Exported box freight out of Tokyo was down by 5.7% compared to the first half of 2018, according to the Tokyo government’s figures.
The top five destination countries by cargo weight were China, the U.S., Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China imported 1.54 million metric tonnes from Tokyo in the first half of this year, which is a fall of just under 11% on the same period last year. Chinese destination cargo accounted for about 26% of all containerized freight by weight out of Tokyo during the first six months of the year.
It was a different story for U.S. destination cargo as exports from Tokyo to the U.S. rose by about 12%. U.S. destination containerized freight stood at about 1.5 million metric tonnes and accounted for 25.4% of Tokyo’s boxed export cargo throughput.
Number three on the export list is Thailand. Cargo volumes out of Tokyo and into Thailand were down too, by about 16%, to stand at about 412.8 thousand metric tonnes. So it can be seen that there is a marked step-down from the volumes exported from Tokyo into China and the U.S. compared to other countries.
Cargo out of Tokyo and into Vietnam rose by about 4.8% in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2018 to stand at 317.7 thousand metric tonnes.
Meanwhile, Taiwan received the fifth-largest amount of sea cargo from Tokyo, about 274.7 thousand metric tonnes in the first six months of 2019, which is about 14.8% down on the same period last year.
Tokyo’s main international export volumes are industrial machinery (just under 900,000 metric tonnes, about 14.6% of the total); various reused materials (886,000 metric tonnes, 14.3% of the total); chemical products (883,000 metric tonnes, 14.3%); and auto parts (777,500; 12.6%). Machinery and reused materials were down by about 8 and 18%, respectively; chemical volumes were flat and exports of auto parts were up by about 5.2%.
Imports into Tokyo
At 16.97 million metric tonnes, import volumes by weight into Tokyo are about three times greater than the weight of exports out of the port. Import volumes into the Port of Tokyo fell marginally by about 0.8% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.
Again, the top five trading partners are China, the U.S., Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Containerized imports from China into Tokyo stood at 7.27 million metric tonnes, which was down by about 1.1%. Chinese imports accounted for about 42.8% of the weight of all cargo into Tokyo in the first six months.
The weight of boxed imports into Tokyo from the U.S. was down by about 6.2% to stand at just over 2 million metric tonnes in the first half of 2019 compared to the first half of 2018. As can be seen from the numbers, there is a big step-down between the volume by weight of imports into Tokyo from China compared with the U.S., which is the No. 2 source country. Cargo from the U.S. accounted for 11.8% of all of Tokyo’s containerized import throughput.
Thailand’s cargo volumes into Tokyo were down too, by about 2.7%, to stand at 1.15 million metric tonnes. Thailand-origin box cargo accounted for about 6.8% of all of Tokyo’s containerized throughput.
Vietnam took the fourth spot with 1.05 million metric tonnes imported into Tokyo. Vietnam is interesting because it fairly significantly bucked the downward trend — its cargo volumes into Tokyo rose by about 13.6%. This increase may be due to trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. It has been widely reported that manufacturers and shippers were starting to shift at least some of their operations and supply chains out of China and into Vietnam to avoid tariffs. Vietnam accounted for about 6.2% of Tokyo’s imported containerized volumes by weight.
There was also a significant 13.5% increase in containerized cargo imported into Tokyo from Taiwan. Box cargo sourced from the island of Taiwan stood at 791,730 metric tonnes. Taiwan accounted for a relatively small 4.7% of Tokyo’s import throughput by weight.
Tokyo’s main international containerized import volumes in the first half of the year were clothes and footwear at just over 2.1 million metric tonnes. These were relatively flat, having suffered a 0.9% decline, and they make up 11.9% of the Port of Tokyo’s international containerized imports by weight.
Imports of containerized electrical appliances into Tokyo stood at 1.6 million metric tonnes, which was an increase of 5.2% in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2019. Electrical appliances account for about 9.2% of the Port of Tokyo’s containerized imports.