Container volumes on the Asian-Mediterranean route are growing again
Drewry: the +3,1% recorded in the first 5 months of 2019 confirms the trend reversal, though during the rest of the year the increase will be lower
According to data collected by Drewry in its latest Container Trade Statistics (CTS) – and reported by the specialised newspaper The Loadstar – traffics on the Asian-Mediterranean route are finally improving.
As a matter of fact, in the first 5 months of 2019 loads transported by sea between Far East and Western Mediterranean (including North Africa) increased by 5.9% compared to the same period in 2018.
As concerns the eastern side of the Mediterranean sea, rates are definitely lower, though positive by 0.6%, in light of the 1.5% reduction in volumes recorded in 2018.
Therefore, the total volume of freights transported in containers from Asia to the Mediterranean between January and May 2019 amounted to 3.1% more compared to those transported in the same period of the previous year, while in the first 5 months of 2018 the balance recorded only a 0.06% increase compared to 2017.
According to Drewry, the recovery of traffics between Asia and Mediterranean is mainly due to China’s decision to redirect part of its exports towards other markets in order to compensate for the decrease in exchanges with the U.S. resulting from the “trade war”. In particular, Spain increased its imports of freights coming from the People’s Republic as, after several years of crisis, it is witnessing a steadfast recovery with higher growth rates compared to the average rates of the rest of Europe.
Despite these “comforting” data, Drewry believes that the growth of traffics between Asia and the Mediterranean area will be slow, mainly due to the fragility of the Turkish economy, being the main destination of goods manufactured in Asia.
By analysing the maritime transport offer on these routes, Drewry observed that the westbound capacity in the first half of the year was lower compared to the corresponding period of 2018, mainly due to the suspension of Zim’s ZMP service, which offset the upgrade of the offer of the three large carriers’ partnerships on this route.
Moreover, in May the westbound use of ships reached 90% compared to the average 85% of the second quarter of 2019. However, the overall surplus of available capacity restrained spot rates, with a similar trend to that observed in Northern Europe.
According to Drewry, the recovery on the Asia-Med route which started in the first months of 2019 will continue for the whole year, though at low rates. However, in light of the definitely worst results recorded by other regional activities, this result might please shipowners within the sector.