THE container shipping market's demand growth this year and next is
likely to outpace fleet growth, leading to slightly higher freight rates
and profits for carriers, according to Drewry's latest annual Container
However, the report was completed before escalation in trade
hostility between the United States and China, American Shipper
Worst- case scenario, up to one per cent of the world's loaded
container traffic could be exposed to tariffs, according to Drewry.
"The bad news for carriers is that they are unlikely to see the
very strong demand growth rates of early 2017 for the foreseeable
future," said Drewry's senior manager of container research, Simon
Heaney. "The good news is that while port handling growth may have
peaked, they can still expect more than adequate volumes for at least
the next two years.
"The top-heavy delivery schedule for 2018 with the majority of
ULCVs (ultra large container vessels) being delivered in the first
quarter has depressed our supply-demand index, but the balance will
improve as the year progresses," Mr Heaney explained.
"Unfortunately for carriers, this won't come soon enough to erase
the negative sentiment for annual contracts, hence why we only
anticipate a small uplift in average freight rates for the year."
Drewry said changes to the containership orderbook, mainly in the
form of delivery deferrals, have softened this year’s new capacity
Mr Heaney added: "A trade war is not yet inevitable, but given the
lack of details, quantifying the risk to container shipping is very
difficult. For example, much of the hi-tech goods considered liable to
tariffs will be airfreighted rather than move on the water."