GEORGE TOWN: Freight forwarders are bracing for hard times as they experience a downtrend resulting from the global economic turmoil.
They said business has dropped by at least 8% for the second consecutive year as the forwarders handle less cargo, forcing them to tighten their operational costs.
Penang Freight Forwarders Association president Joachim Loo said the situation was due to global market forces, especially in the United States and Europe.
“We are now in the final quarter of the fiscal year when demand for goods should be on the increase for Christmas and New Year markets. Manufacturers and retailers in the two regions, however, are placing less orders.
“The most affected business are electronics, garment and medical products. While operational costs have gone up, our members are struggling to survive as we try to fill up our lorries with consignments,” he said.
The total aircargo throughput at the Penang International Airport last year was 158,812 tonnes compared to 172,668 tonnes in 2006.
Up to August this year, the forwarders only handled a total of 99,529 tonnes of cargo.
Cargo handling in Kuala Lumpur also saw a down trend with forwarders recording 646,529 tonnes of goods last year compared to 657,836 tonnes in 2006.
“Right now, we are tightening our belt. Many of us are not hiring new workers and some of our members have already told their workers not to expect any bonus this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) northern branch said factories here were expected to feel the heat of the global meltdown by December or early next year.
Its chairman Datuk O.K. Lee said the branch was now looking into ways to help factories here cushion the impact and take remedial measures.
A survey would be conducted to find out how members had been affected by the world economic turmoil as Penang is home to many multinational companies.
“The effect is still not that strongly felt here. But we anticipate a chain reaction as it is only a matter of time before it hits us,” he said yesterday.
Lee said industry players complained that demand for their products had softened while the sharp rise in electricity tariff, transportation fees and gas also did not help the current situation.
Source: Star Online