Drewry: Container trade outlook rises with more volumes

Drewry: Freight rates bounce back from 2016 levels

World container trade appears to be back on track after two lean years, right on time for carriers that are taking delivery of big new ships, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.

The recovery resulted in an upgrade to Drewry’s annual outlook for 2017, while more recent data suggests that the outlook might have to go higher still.

Port statistics gathered from a sample of nearly 150 sites around the world indicate that container handling grew by 6.6% in the first six months of the year, while deep-sea and regional trade numbers are showing similar progress. That rate could rise or fall as more information becomes available, “but there is little doubt that the final-year figure will eclipse anything seen in the past two years.”

Drewry’s sample shows that all of the routes with the exception of Europe-Middle East made contributions. Five trades, including Intra-Asia, Asia-WCNA, Asia-Med, Asia-ECNA and Asia-North Europe, were responsible for over three-quarters of the additional volumes.

“The surge in container handling has been evident since the back end of 2016, and as it has gathered momentum we were forced into a fairly radical reassessment of our forecast for both this year and the next,” Drewry said.

The 2017 forecast of 4.1% was made with only the first quarter of 2017 port and trade statistics to hand and such has been their strength since that a further upgrade is highly likely.

The shipping consultancy expects the second half of the year to deliver similar volumes as the first half, although because of the tougher comparisons the growth rate might not be quite as strong.

How much of a lift there will be in the traditional third-quarter “peak-season” is debatable as volumes have smoothed out significantly in the past few years, Drewry informed.  

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