Box volumes on Asia-Med trade route bounce back after 2018 slump

WESTBOUND liftings from Asia to the west Mediterranean (including North Africa) rose by 5

28 July 2019 - 19:00

WESTBOUND liftings from Asia to the west Mediterranean (including North Africa) rose by 5.9 per cent year on year to the end of May, Container Trade Statistics (CTS) shows.

The region recovered to achieve 0.6 per cent headhaul growth in the first five months of the year, compared with a 1.5 decrease in volumes in 2018. According to Drewry, the Asia to east Mediterranean trade was finally showing 'positive intent, following a prolonged period of contraction,' reported UK's The Loadstar.

Cumulatively, Asia to Mediterranean headhaul trade rose by 3.1 per cent over the reporting period, up from just 0.6 per cent expansion the year before.

Drewry was cited as saying: 'Container traffic from Asia to the Mediterranean appears to have been given a lift as China redirects more exports to other markets to compensate for the fall in traffic to the US.'

It attributed much of the growth to a rise in Spanish imports, which it suggested had been given a 'fillip from a substantial hike to the country's minimum wage at the start of the year.'

In spite of Drewry saying the CTS data was 'encouraging', it cautioned that Asia-Med headhaul growth for the remainder of the year was 'unlikely to be rapid'.

The consultant said the main reason for this bearish outlook was the still-fragile nature of the Turkish economy, the largest importer of Asian goods in the region, which it said was still reeling from the impact of its currency crisis in 2018.

On the supply side, Drewry said westbound capacity in the first half of the year had been kept below the level of the same period of 2018, which it attributed to the shelving of Zim's ZMP loop that had counteracted the upgrade of three alliance services.

It noted that westbound vessel utilisation levels in May had recovered to 90 per cent, from an 85 per cent average in the second quarter, and that the capacity surplus had pulled down spot container rates.


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