Worrying decline in global container volumes

Global container volumes in February recorded a sharp decline, according to data just released by Container Trade Statistics.

Shipping expert Lars Jensen of SeaIntelligence Consulting points out that given the strong effect of Chinese New Year, it is prudent not to look at February alone, but instead at January and February combined and compare to the same period in 2018. “This eliminates the New Year effect,” he said.

But globally, container volumes still declined 2.1%.

“In absolute terms this means that there was a need to move half a million 20' containers less in Jan/Feb 2019 compared to 2018,” he said.

“When looking at imports and exports at a regional level, only Europe showed increases, with European imports up by 2.1% and exports by 3.0%.”

All other regions showed declines in both imports and exports.

He said that because the weakness was so widespread it could not be explained purely by the US trade debacle and frontloading of cargo.

“The only positive angle to place upon this is that the European imports were at least growing, and given that this is the trade where all the new ultra-large vessels are being phased in, this is also where growth is imperative to absorb these new behemoths.”

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