Last month's China purchasing managers index (PMI), a barometer of manufacturing activity, hit its lowest point since February 2009, a result blamed on the impact of European austerity moves and slackening consumer demand.
Although October is traditionally a month of slowdown to prepare for post-holiday slump, the PMI hit 50.4 following 49.9 in September, anything above 50 indicates expansion, said a report from London's International Freighting Weekly.
The government's aim to cool an overheating economy are factors contributing to slowdown, resulting in September exports declining to US$169.67 billion from $175.13 billion in July, weak demand, particularly in Europe cut into shipping volumes.
According to the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index rates US west coast to Europe dropped from $1,381 per TEU at the beginning of the year to $649 per TEU and from $2,031 per FEU to $1,494 end of October.
The forecast for shipping volumes is for continued deterioration following slowdown in global demand, said the Norwegian investment bank RS Platou Markets.