The latest edition of Hackett's Global Port Tracker North Europe Trade Outlook predicts cargo volumes on the route may fall this year, with a decline of as much as 4% of total moves at ports in Northern Europe.
It predicts declines in container volumes at European ports in the first half of 2016, with North Range ports projected to post a 5.2% year-on-year decrease. Meanwhile, the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) noted that for January to November 2015, the year-on-year growth in major world ports was negative.
European-bound imports are projected to fall 3.2 percent, while Northern Europe imports could decline by at least 4 percent, and the six North Range ports are expected to see incoming volumes fall 4.4 percent, with outgoing volumes to fall 3.1 percent, and total handled volumes predicted to tail off by 2.3 percent.
Only the Port of Antwerp has had a decent year and will likely maintain strength in 2016 as it is not exposed to the collapse in the Russian trade volumes that has so plagued its northern competitors.
Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett commented in the report that these numbers indicate that any type of meaningful improvement in trade volumes is not expected in the first half of 2016, explaining that he is seeing “a worsening economic situation that will drive container volumes down further in all major trades.”
Compounding this situation, he noted, is how container carrying capacity continues to head up, or “in leaps and bounds without much reference to trade in the foolish search for economies of scale.”
Despite negative predictions for this year, the last month showed improvement for lines like MSC and CSCL, which successfully issued general rate increases (GRI) in December and helped double Asia-Europe prices in one week on the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. The December high values, over $1200 for both Northern European and Mediterranean destinations, have not been seen since 2014.
Hapag Lloyd and MOL both instituted a GRI to $1200 per TEU for all Asia-Europe and Asia-Mediterranean moves effective in January, and CMA CGM announced Monday that it is implementing a GRI in an attempt to bolster revenue.
The Global Port Tracker: North Europe Trade Outlook provides a six-month projection plus an additional two-quarter forecast of inbound and outbound container movements in TEUs for the region’s six major container ports – Le Havre, Zeebrugge, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremen/Bremerhaven and Hamburg.