The durability of economic indicators in container shipping demand: a case study of East Asia–US container transport

Tomoya Kawasaki, Takuma Matsuda, Yui yip Lau, Xiaowen Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In the maritime industry, it is vital to have a reliable forecast of container shipping demand. Although indicators of economic conditions have been used in modeling container shipping demand on major routes such as those from East Asia to the USA, the duration of such indicators’ effects on container movement demand have not been systematically examined. To bridge this gap in research, this study aims to identify the important US economic indicators that significantly affect the volume of container movements and empirically reveal the duration of such impacts.

Design/methodology/approach: The durability of economic indicators on container movements is identified by a vector autoregression (VAR) model using monthly-based time-series data. In the VAR model, this paper can analyze the effect of economic indicators at t-k on container movement at time t. In the model, this paper considers nine US economic indicators as explanatory variables that are likely to affect container movements. Time-series data are used for 228 months from January 2001 to December 2019. 

Findings: In the mainland China route, “building permission” receives high impact and has a duration of 14 months, reflecting the fact that China exports a high volume of housing-related goods to the USA. Regarding the South Korea and Japan routes, where high volumes of machinery goods are exported to the USA, the “index of industrial production” receives a high impact with 11 and 13 months’ duration, respectively. On the Taiwan route, as several types of goods are transported with significant shares, “building permits” and “index of industrial production” have important effects. 

Originality/value: Freight demand forecasting for bulk cargo is a popular research field because of the public availability of several time-series data. However, no study to date has measured the impact and durability of economic indicators on container movement. To bridge the gap in the literature in terms of the impact of economic indicators and their durability, this paper developed a time-series model of the container movement from East Asia to the USA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-304
Number of pages17
JournalMaritime Business Review
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2022


  • Container demand forecast
  • Durability
  • Time-series data
  • Vector error correction model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Transportation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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