By DAVID TAN (thestar.com.my)
GEORGE TOWN: The sea and airfreight business in Penang improved in the second quarter by about 12% and 20% respectively from the first quarter.
For the second quarter, sea throughput rose to 163,985 twenty-feet equivalent units (TEUs) from 145,854 TEUs in the first quarter, while air cargo increased to 24,196 tonnes from 19,910.
Penang Freight Forwarders Association (PFFA) president Krishnan Chelliah told StarBiz that the second-quarter results showed the import and export of goods in Penang were gradually improving.
“The last six months have shown a steady increase month-on-month.
“However, compared with the second quarter of 2008, the airfreight business is down by about 33%.
“The sea-cargo business in the second quarter is down about 19% compared with the corresponding period of 2008,” he said.
Krishnan said the air and sea-freight volumes in July were the highest this year.
“This shows that we are recovering and bottoming out. In January 2009, the airfreight volume was the lowest in many years, and from February onwards there was a steady increase of 2% to 3% every month.
“In July, there was a jump of 4%. However, in the sea-freight business the month-on-month increase was 10% to 15%,” he said.
Krishnan said PFFA expected the growth to continue in the second half of this year.
PFFA secretary-general Bryan Kor Hock Choon said the third quarter should see the sea and airfreight business in Penang improve by about 10% over the second quarter, and the fourth quarter by 5% over the third quarter.
“Generally, in December, business slows down for freight forwarders,” he said.
Krishnan also urged the State and Federal Governments to continue attracting foreign direct investments to maintain the momentum of growth and recovery.
Meanwhile, Penang Importers & Exporters Association (PIEA) president Datuk Tan Choo Hin said that for the first six months this year, PIEA members imported about 33,000 TEUs of cargo against about 46,000 TEUs in the previous corresponding period.
“The exporters also exported less in the first six months, shipping about 45,000 TEUs compared with about 70,000 TEUs in the previous corresponding period,” Tan said.
He said imports by PIEA members were lower in the first half because February, March and April were generally slow months, the festive season was already over, and the local demand had weakened.
“The peak season starts from May and lasts till the fourth quarter,” he said.
“Exporters are also doing less business because the number of regional buyers in Asia had dropped.
“At the recent China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, the number of purchasers from South-East Asia dropped by about 30%. We see, instead, more buyers from India and the Middle East,” he said.
Tan said the third and fourth quarters should see an improvement but overall, business this year would not be better than in 2008.
He added that there was “no visibility” as to the business environment for 2010.