The shipping industry is working to build steel containers outside of China to reduce reliance on Chinese manufacturing. This comes as manufacturers and government bodies in Asia and the US are developing factories to diversify their supply chains and mitigate trade disruptions caused by the pandemic. Currently, over 95% of containers are made in China, leading to concerns about a monopoly on container production. The plans for building containers outside of China are driven by geopolitical tensions and threats towards Taiwan. Vietnam and India are expected to increase their capacity for container production, with Vietnam potentially manufacturing around a sixth of the steel boxes produced in a year. A shortage of containers during the pandemic disrupted trade and drove up costs, highlighting the need for greater protection against future disruptions. The demand for container production may flow to Vietnam, as it is a low-cost manufacturing hub like China. The launch of new container factories in Vietnam was followed by similar plans in India. Meanwhile, the US government is supporting the development of higher-margin “smart containers” fitted with tracking technology. However, there are doubts about how much capacity will shift to other markets, as China still dominates container production with its state-owned enterprises. CIMC, DFIC, and CXIC Group are the major players in container production within China, but they acknowledge that competition is growing.
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