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Cablegate: Hong Kong Air/Maritime Throughput Cargo Update -

VZCZCXRO7588
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHVC
DE RUEHHK #1679/01 2460719
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030719Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8462
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HONG KONG 001679

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM AND EEB, TREASURY FOR OASIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EINV ETRD HK CH
SUBJECT: HONG KONG AIR/MARITIME THROUGHPUT CARGO UPDATE -
JULY 2009

REF: HONG KONG 158

1. SUMMARY: According to Hong Kong Government figures, local
air and maritime cargo throughput may be recovering from the
steep drops seen earlier this year. Maritime cargo volumes
fell 14.5 percent year-on-year for July 2009 but increased 8
percent from June. Air cargo throughput in July fell 8.4%
compared to the previous year, the smallest monthly decline
in air cargo since September 2008. Increasing air cargo
trade with Europe and North America supported continued
recovery in intra-Asian trade. Hong Kong registered maritime
cargo capacity increased, in spite of excess demand that has
empty ships moored in Hong Kong waters. END SUMMARY

===============================
HK Container Traffic Recovering
===============================

2. (U) The Hong Kong Government's Marine Department released
figures indicating the container throughput for all Hong Kong
port facilities fell 14.5% in July 2009 compared with the
July 2008. Through the first seven months of 2009 volumes
were down 17.0% compared to the same period in 2008. The
Maritime Department estimated a total of 1,930,000 Twenty
Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) passed through the Hong Kong,s
port system in July 2009 bringing the 2009 year-to-date total
to 11,842,000 TEU. While still down substantially compared
to last year, July's throughput was a significant increase
over June 2009 and marked the largest number of containers to
pass through Hong Kong's ports since October 2008.

3. (U) Looking at monthly container throughput numbers since
the beginning of 2009, it appears that the decline in
maritime cargo passing through Hong Kong has hit bottom and
begun to show signs of recovery.

Month Y-O-Y Growth Total TEUs ('000)
Jan 2009 - 23.6% 1,612
Feb 2009 - 18.2% 1,345
Mar 2009 - 16.5% 1,672
Apr 2009 - 17.8% 1,725
May 2009 - 13.3% 1,767
Jun 2009 - 15.6% 1,792
Jul 2009 - 14.5% 1,930

========================
Marine Cargo Capacity Up
========================

4. (U) The Hong Kong Maritime Department reports an overall
expansion of maritime cargo carrying capacity. Published
figures show a 9.5 percent year-on-year growth rate in the
number of cargo carrying vessels registered in Hong Kong,
with a 10.5 percent year-on-year growth rate in the gross
tonnage for those vessels. This increase comes in spite of
continued excess cargo capacity. According to the Managing
Director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA)
large numbers of empty merchant vessels remain anchored in
Hong Kong, waiting for a return of demand for
consumer-related shipping. In some instances, these vessels
are reportedly being used as off-shore holding tanks for oil
in the hopes that the futures market creates a profit
opportunity.

5. One explanation for the increase in cargo carrying vessels
registered to Hong Kong came from the HKSOA Managing Director
who noted that even as purchasers cancel orders for new
ships, economies of scale make it difficult for shipyards to
quickly halt production. These new vessels are being
purchased by China-based ship owners with the backing of the
Central Bank, he said, in hopes of a recovery ahead.

===================================
Air Cargo to EU, US Also Recovering
===================================

6. (U) Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (HACTL) reported
total air cargo tonnage throughput for July 2009 fell by 8.4
percent year-on-year over the same period in 2008. This
marks the smallest monthly decline since September 2008.
While still well below July 2008 figures, shipments to and
from Hong Kong's major trading partners were up substantially
from June 2009, with North America and Europe showing the
largest increases. The table below shows the percentage
year-on-year decline in air cargo volume for HACTL from
January to July 2009.


HONG KONG 00001679 002 OF 002


Month Y-O-Y Growth
Jan 2009 -30.9%
Feb 2009 -22.0%
Mar 2009 -21.1%
Apr 2009 -22.5%
May 2009 -18.6%
Jun 2009 -14.4%
Jul 2009 -8.4%
MARUT

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