The CEO of container shipping company AP Møller-Maersk, Vincent Clerc, has stated that China’s economic rebound after COVID-19 is weaker than expected due to consumers emerging “stunned” from the pandemic-led disruptions and a real estate meltdown last year. China has set a growth target of 5% this year, which is its lowest in decades. Profit at Chinese industrial groups also slumped almost 23% in January to February of this year, further underscoring concerns about the economy’s rebound from pandemic restrictions. However, the trading volumes associated with the Chinese economy remain resilient, and little sign of negative impact has been seen from US-led efforts to “decouple” from China. Despite predictions of stronger performance after China abandoned its COVID-19 controls in December 2020, many economists are still awaiting a robust rebound. Clerc stated that some Maersk customers were drawing parallels with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, when consumers took time to recover their confidence. Additionally, 70% of Chinese savings were found to be in real estate, and Chinese stocks are also underperforming, heightening the negative mood. Maersk has sought greater exposure to China’s domestic consumer market, and is seeking to expand from its core shipping line business into markets ranging from e-commerce to road and air freight.
Maersk cautions that China’s economic recovery is not as strong as anticipated.
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