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Threat of US-Europe trade war sparks off more transatlantic blankings

2M partners Maersk and MSC have extended the suspension of their TA4/NEUATL4 transatlantic loop through to September

02 July 2020 - 19:00

2M partners Maersk and MSC have extended the suspension of their TA4/NEUATL4 transatlantic loop through to September. The service, which deploys five vessels with an average capacity of 5,300 TEU, was originally suspended until mid-June and to mid-July.

Maersk attributed the new move to 'continued market demand reductions in North America and Europe caused by the Covid-19 pandemic'. The service is now stemmed to be reinstated from Europe in the first week of September and from the US mid-month.



Maersk said it would 'continue to review the demand picture and adjust deployed capacity as needed', while MSC said it was continuing with its 'prudent approach to capacity management during the Covid-19 crisis'.



The service has a rotation of Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Liverpool, New York, Savannah, Port Everglades and Savannah, reports UK's The Loadstar.



In contrast to the main Asia-Europe and transpacific tradelanes, where carriers have seen a pickup in demand in recent weeks, trade between Europe and the US is still very much in the doldrums.



Indeed, one UK NVOCC said that the transatlantic market was 'on the floor', adding that 'it's definitely our most challenging trade at the moment, other routes are getting back to some sort of normal but the US market is very difficult at the moment.'



The continued suspension of the 2M loop is a further blow to the UK's struggling exporters in the north-west who will need to continue to rely on ACL's weekly con-ro service as the only direct service to the US from Liverpool.



According to eeSea data, carriers blanked 25 (13 per cent) of the scheduled 199 sailings on the transatlantic in May and have cancelled 17 (9 per cent) of the advertised 187 sailings in June.



Apart from the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the transatlantic trade, ocean carriers are bracing themselves for a second hit from the threat of the US imposing a raft of new tariffs on the import of European goods, part of a long-running spat over subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus.



The US administration said recently that it was considering imposing duties on 30 products, including beer, cakes, hardware products and clothing, imported from the EU and UK amounting to some US$3.1 billion in trade annually.



President Trump has also threatened duties on European cars after imposing a levy on steel and aluminium, prompting Brussels to tax some iconic US products such as denim jeans and motorcycles. Irish whiskey, Guinness, Baileys Scotch whisky and gin said to be on the president's radar.


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