Global Container Volume Forecast Projecting Strong Gains in 2017

Based on data collected in the first six months of 2017, shipping analyst Drewry is projecting strong increases in world container volume for the year. Port statistics Drewry compiled from a sample of nearly 150 sites around the world indicated that container handling grew by 6.6 percent in the first six months of the year, and deep-sea and regional trade numbers were showing similar progress. Asia-Mediterranean routes led the recovery with volume up just shy of 10 percent, with Asia-North Europe container volume up 4 percent compared with the first half of 2016. Demand in the first half of last year was very weak, which makes the comparison so favorable, but even so, Drewry said there is little doubt that the final-year figure for 2017 would eclipse anything seen in the past two years. Drewry said it expected 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 was debatable as volumes have smoothed out significantly in the past few years, with the surge of online shopping spreading buying patterns more evenly through the year. "World port throughput growth was barely a thing in either 2015 or 2016, and if the current rate for the first half 2017 as suggested by our sample ports holds true for the remainder of the year, it will have been the fastest growing year since 2011," Drewry noted. Looking at a sample of major trades, the analyst concluded that all of the routes with the exception of Europe-Middle East made contributions. Five trades - Intra-Asia, Asia-West Coast of North America, Asia-Mediterranean, Asia-East Coast of North America, and Asia-North Europe - were responsible for over three-quarters of the additional volume. Earlier this year, Drewry predicted that the container shipping industry would close the year with an operating profit of around $1.5 billion, driven by higher freight rates and rapidly growing cargo demand. Drewry in July upgraded that forecast to $5 billion due to the uptick in pricing and demand through the first half of this year. Source: Journal of Commerce