Liner trade growth expected to remain sluggish

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While optimism surrounds the potential recovery of growth in the liner trade, experts who participated in Container Xchange’s Digital Container Summit (DCS) 2023 anticipate that overall improvement in the industry will remain subdued.

According to an official release, the supply side of the equation reveals that the global fleet of container ships is poised for expansion towards the end of the year.

It includes growth expectations for 2024 and the medium- to long-term future.

Projections indicate that by the end of 2025, the industry will boast a staggering 30 million TEU slots in active service.

Vessel slot capacity growth, a critical factor, experienced a 4.5% increase in 2022 and is projected to expand by 5% for the remainder of 2023.

A further 6.3% growth curve is predicted for this segment of the industry next year.

Despite the prevailing trade slowdown, the interest in ordering new ships remains steadfast.

It was noted that over 80% of vessel orders placed this year have been for dual-fuel tonnage, with a significant portion targeting neo-panamax vessels.

Additionally, experts pointed out a notable shift in the industry, indicating a departure from the historically low rate of scrapping in recent years.

Drewry anticipates a decrease in the container equipment pool this year, reducing from 50.9 million TEU to 49.9 million TEU.

But an upward trajectory is expected leading up to 2025, where an estimated 53.5 million TEU is anticipated to be in service.

Christian Roeloffs, Container xChange’s co-founder and CEO, said containerisation is faced by both challenges and opportunities.

He pointed to trade growth slowing down, with only a marginal 0.3% increase expected this year.

It is believed that market uncertainties related to the global economy and politics are exerting their influence.

It is hoped that the anticipated increase in ship capacity over the next three years may help restore supply-demand equilibrium by 2025, Roeloffs said.

According to Logistics Update Africa, the following industry stakeholders participated in DCS 2023: Peter Sand of Xeneta, Antonia Ambrozy of Freightos, John Fossey of Drewry, Nick Saavides of Loadstar, Supal Shah of Arcon Container, Jack Sun of Orange Container Line, Danny den Boer of SeaCube, and Stefan Verberckmoes of Alphaliner/AXSMarine.

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