Ocean shipping: Global Port Tracker report calling for strong growth prospects in future quarters
May 31, 2011 - LM Editorial
Coming off a less-than-stellar first quarter, future prospects for import and export container volumes in Europe are expected to grow over the next six months, according to the monthly 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 stated that total container volumes at these ports in March are estimated to have increased 8.1 percent from February to 3.38 million TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent units) and 9.3 percent on an annual basis. March imports and exports are forecasted to be up 29.9 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively, from February.
It added that following what is to be expected active months in April and May, imports are projected to “settle down” through September, with each port expected to post annual gains but relatively flat sequential gains.
Global Port Tracker also reported that the coming four quarters are expected to result in annual growth for import and export volumes, with imports and exports forecasted to post annual growth through the first quarter of 2012.
While growth is still occurring, it has slowed some somewhat, coupled with excess capacity, which is masking the fact that cargo growth is still occurring, according to Ben Hackett, president of Hackett Associates, in an interview. Another factor weighing into growth projections, cited by Hackett is the pace of consumer spending.
“Consumers are spending less on durable and non-durable items, because they are spending more on food and gasoline,” said Hackett. “The excess capacity is coming on at a time when carriers are not removing existing vessels. This is causing freight rates to drop down to 2009 levels. The push made by carriers to increase freight rates has dissipated.”
While carriers are currently not removing vessels from rotations at the moment, Hackett said that could possibly occur fairly soon.
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