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"HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Growing interest among Western companies in manufacturing closer to their home markets could be bad news for some of Asia’s biggest shipping lines, with some analysts now warning of flat or even declining trade volumes for years to come.

In research released earlier this week, Australian investment bank Macquarie warned of a “lost decade” for the shipping firms servicing the major trade routes linking Asia with markets in the U.S. and Europe.

The current soft patch for container rates, now into its fifth year, could be part of a structural trend, as surging labor rates and other rising costs mean Asia’s manufacturing hubs are no longer the great bargains they once were.

The tilt by U.S. and European companies toward “in-sourcing” — locating manufacturing closer to home markets — may even be more widespread than commonly thought, Macquarie said."

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