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It wasn’t so long ago that European exports to Asia mainly consisted of recycled materials such as plastics and pulp. But that is changing – and faster than one might expect – as more and more European countries and companies focus on serving Chinese consumers. While Asia-Europe trade is forecast to fall 3.3% this year, the backhaul leg will grow 5.5%, presenting something of a silver lining in what is otherwise an unrelentingly gloomy picture for Europe.

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