Premier box trades report robust third-quarter growth

containers on loading pier

November 14, 2017 - Volume growth on the Asia-Europe and transpacific trades maintained strong 2017 performance through the third quarter, rising a respective 6.2% and 8.8% year on year.

New data published by Container Trades Statistics, including the latest September figures, shows that liner operators shifted 4.2m teu on Asia-Europe services in the three months ending September 30 against last year, as volumes continued to rebound on the back of the strengthening European economy.

The health of both the US and Canadian economies also drove Asian imports into North America during the three-month period, climbing to 5.1m teu compared to the 4.7m teu reported in 2016.

In September, Asia-Europe volumes grew 7.4% over last year from 1.2m teu from 1.3m, as transpacific traffic jumped by near double-digit levels, or 9.7%, from 1.6m teu to 1.7m teu, according to CTS.

Although volume growth was significant on the principal pair of containerised trades in September, carriers were still unable to make these gains translate to the spot market.

Indeed, the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index showed rates falling, albeit only gradually, across the board, but at a time when carriers should have been able to push for higher rates.

Confirmation that volume growth in September was robust will only raise further questions over carriers’ capacity mismanagement, the unethical influx of supply and whether their focus remains on securing market share rather than rate advances.

Sustained box growth in the third quarter, meanwhile, also means that year-to-date numbers on the east-west majors continue to make for equally impressive reading.

On the Asia-Europe route, growth through the first nine months of 2017 stood at 5.4%, rising from 11.5m teu to 12m teu.

Transpacific box numbers of 13.9m teu in the January-September period represented growth of 8.8% over the 12.8m teu moved in the corresponding months of 2016.

Healthy traffic on the trunk lines is a story that is also being repeated on a global level.
CTS data shows that volumes on the world’s liner shipping trades grew by a further 4.1% in September, and as a result year-to-date traffic through the first nine months of the 2017 was tracking 4.9% above last year.

Analysts are currently estimating full-year global box growth of between 4% and 5%.

Source: Lloyd’s Loading List

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