World trade fall hits Hong Kong shipping

Ships travel to and from the manufacturing and trading hubs of southern China through the Lamma channel, and it is still busy.

But the ships once sitting heavily in the water, loftily loaded with containers, are now visibly higher in the water. There is less cargo moving around the world, so less need for ships. Hence, dramatically lower rates for hiring large ships, and so a growing crisis in world shipping. As the China boom deflates, demand for steel, iron ore and other bulk items from around the world diminishes, leaving bulk carrying ships all dressed up with nowhere to go. “If you sit in one of the glamorous bars on the south side of Hong Kong, especially in the evening, you will see the lights of lots of ships,” says Tim Huxley, chief executive of Wah Kwong Shipping, one of Hong Kong’s largest ship-owners.

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