Global Port Tracker report calls for minimal trade growth

The outlook for global trade activity continues to be relatively dim, according to the most recent edition of the Global Port Tracker report from Hackett Associates and the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics.

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The outlook for global trade activity continues to be relatively dim, according to the most recent edition of the Global Port Tracker report from Hackett Associates and the Bremen Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics.

Ports surveyed in this report include the six major container reports in North Europe: le Havre, Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Bremen/Bremerhaven, and Hamburg.

The report explained that total container volumes for these six ports increased a cumulative 0.6 percent in May, the most recent month for which data is available.

Trade prospects are not improving despite a few short term hopeful signs,” wrote Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett in the report. “We do not share the optimistic views being expressed in the market. The North European market remains in the doldrums with an uptick here and a downturn there. Global growth, according to the IMF will be subdued at 3 per cent, the same as last year which means too much capacity chasing to little cargo.”

He added that the slowdown in China’s growth rate is impacting the export scene as much as the recession in the key European markets has for all intents and purposes negated any hope of a peak season, with growth negative in both directions.

Hackett said in a recent interview that the current situation makes it increasingly likely there will not be a true Peak Season in Europe or the United States.

“U.S. Consumer demand still remains weak at a 1 percent growth rate even though the GDP is slightly above 2 percent,” he said. “The inventory-to-sales ratio has also gone up and is close to pre-recession levels that were last seen around 2006,” he explained. “That is a potential warning sign and it also means there is enough inventory in stores which do not require importers to have a big Peak Season.”

And with current inventory levels ostensibly sufficient Hackett added that is hindering any reason to increase levels.

The report stated that total imports to Europe were up 1.8 percent in May, with North Europe up 0.7 percent and down 17.3 percent annually. Total exports dipped 0.9 percent and were down 4.2 percent in North Europe.

For all of 2013, the report is calling for imports to rise 0.1 percent annually to 16.0 million TEU, and imports are projected to increase 1.5 percent to 17.6 million TEU. 


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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