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IHS report on state of container trade

Friday, 24 February 2012 | 00:00
German global research firm IHS, has forecasted a move towards a “tendency to control the market and another period of crazy market conditions” for global container trade, in a webcast this week.
In the webcast, Jürgen Sorgenfrei, director, maritime and hinterland services, IHS Consulting, spoke about the current drivers in the container trade compared with in the past – where change seemed to be driven more exclusively by GDP growth, world trade and oil prices.
Except for 2010, “the most profitable year” for the shipping industry, the container trade has struggled since the economic downturn in 2009.
It was hoped that 2011would be a good year with market growth, but instead the market is still “nervous” according to Mr Sorgenfrei. “There is a trend towards oligopolistic behaviour”, Mr Sorgenfrei said. “There is a move towards market consolidation or concentration – the impact to ports and terminals being a move towards dedicated terminals, higher volumes per call, fewer customer with more influence, larger ships, and more space needed per call.”
And looking forward, he added: “We will continue to see an increased trend to more environmentally friendly transport modes, with big European ports such as Antwerp and Rotterdam moving away from reliance on road transport.”
These new more political drivers of change for the industry will be the drivers of growth in the future IHS argue.
Christopher Pålsson, Director, Maritime Research, IHS Fairplay, Gothenburg, Sweden, who also took part in the webcast, warned that although port calls increased by 20% last year, they went down in the last quarter of 2011 and this trend is so far continuing in 2012.
He added that new capacity is set to rise by another 1.47m teu this year, which is adding to an already stretched market.
“There are hard times ahead for operators”, he said.
Source: Port Strategy
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