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Maersk sees short term delays from Japan crisis

SINGAPORE, Apr 13 – Japan\’s problems from the giant quake-tsunami and nuclear crisis will result in shipment delays but only over the short term, the chief executive of Maersk group said Wednesday.

"We are seeing some delays in shipment of components and eventually that will also give some delays in shipment of finished products out of other countries and Japan," said Nils S. Andersen, head of the AP Moller-Maersk Group, the world\’s top container shipping firm.

"So we do think it will have a negative impact in the short-term but we don\’t expect it to impact the global markets," he told reporters after speaking at a maritime conference in Singapore.

"Eventually the demand and the supply will come back."

Andersen made his remarks as the Japanese government downgraded its economic outlook and Toyota announced more temporary plant shutdowns overseas.

The disasters crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, and workers have been struggling since then to contain radiation from the facility.

Japan\’s Cabinet Office cut its assessment of the world\’s number three economy for the first time in six months, in light of the March 11 quake and tsunami that has killed more than 13,000 people and left over 15,000 missing.

Compounding the situation, Toyota said it would temporarily halt production at five European plants for several days in April and May, due to a shortage of parts.

It joins its Japanese rivals Nissan Motor and Honda Motor in cutting back output in Europe.

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Analysts have expressed fears that the nuclear crisis that has already forced some shipping firms to avoid Japan\’s key ports could affect the global supply chain.

German container shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd has halted services to the ports of Yokohama and Tokyo — the two major facilities on Tokyo Bay — over fears of radiation contaminating its vessels, crew or cargo.

But Maersk said it would continue calling at Japanese ports as long as they were considered safe, and its offices in Japan remain open, although it has imposed a 140-nautical mile no-go zone around Fukushima.

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