THE global container trade is forecast to grow by 4.1 per cent this year compared to a disappointing 2015, but the industry is still expected to be plagued by overcapacity, on-going softness in freight rates and a weak global economy on the back of China's slowdown.
Clarksons Research said in its shipping review and outlook that it anticipates global container volumes to rise from 175.4 million TEU to 182.5 million TEU in 2016, with fragmented growth expected on both the mainline and non-mainline trades, reported Lloyd's Loading List.
On the headhaul Asia-Europe trade following the negative impact of inventory level adjustments, weak European import demand and reduced Russian imports last year, in which volumes declined by an estimated 3.7 per cent year on year, trade growth on the route is projected to return to positive territory this year.
The analysts predict the peak leg Asia-Europe traffic to increase by 3.8 per cent to 15.4 million TEU this year.
Westbound transpacific trade is also expected to rebound in 2016, with volume growth of 1.4 per cent projected for the 12-month period, down from 3.4 per cent in 2015. In the opposite direction trade growth is anticipated to slow from the six per cent recorded last year but will remain healthy at around 4.6 per cent.
Growth in intra-Asia traffic is forecast to accelerate to 4.4 per cent in 2016 against the previous year, representing its slowest pace since 2009.
On north-south routes box trade growth last year was hit hard by the impact of severe commodity price falls on the import levels of commodity exporting developing economies, resulting in just a 1.4 per cent rise in overall volumes.
For non-mainline routes the London-based analysts are forecasting growth of 5.4 per cent in trade, down slightly on 2015's 7.6 per cent spike.
Growth of the fully cellular fleet is expected to slow in 2016 to 3.9 per cent, as the "pace of mega boxship deliveries eases slightly".
As a result, freight rates are likely to come under pressure in the short term, and the delivery of bigger ships are expected to pick up pace again in 2017.
Source : HKSG.