Maersk Asia Pacific market update (November 2022)
The global economic outlook appears to be deteriorating further amid slowing growth and elevated inflation levels. As a result, global container volumes are continuing to fall with negative growth in virtually all the main markets causing Maersk to reduce capacity on major ocean trades from Asia to match demand. But despite the gloom there are signs of buoyancy, with some retail sectors in the US set to see a surge in monthly revenues according to market analysts.
Maersk is also set to quickly expand its dedicated airfreight airline, Maersk Air Cargo, with the inauguration of flights in late December of this year between China and the US, following the launch of cargo flights between the US and South Korea on October 31. We aim to swiftly increase the number of flights to provide our customers with reliable and quick air cargo options.
Headwinds are continuing to grow for the global economy as the conflict in Ukraine, high inflation levels and weakness in key manufacturing and property markets in China weigh on the macroeconomic outlook.
The Global Composite Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) slipped to 49 in October, reflecting that growth in much of the world is slowing. The manufacturing orders-to-inventory ratio also fell further in October while manufacturing export orders were flat. The figures suggest the growth momentum has deteriorated further in early Q4.
China continues to battle sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks and headwinds to both current and future demand remain significant. China’s PMI also edged down to 49 in October from 50 a month earlier but has languished around the same level since June.
Inflationary pressures in both the US and Europe remain elevated with the consumer price index (CPI) holding steady over the summer at around 8.2 percent, while in Europe inflation is at a record high with the CPI climbing to 9.9 percent in September. Producer price inflation in Europe – the price paid by manufacturers for raw materials and goods – is even higher at around 40 percent. That comes even though energy prices have eased due to increased supplies of oil and gas. The fall in exports led to a further decline in global container trade volumes in June-August and most regions are now seeing negative growth. Ocean spot freight rates have also continued to see a dramatic fall and are now close to levels seen in the second half of 2020. While port congestion has eased on the US West Coast and in China, it remains a problem on the US East Coast although it is trending downwards.
Maersk will make the collection of six-digit Harmonized System (HS) Codes, as published by World Customs Organization (WCO), mandatory from January 15, 2023. Shipping Instructions received with missing or incomplete HS codes will not be processed. This is to ensure Maersk and its customers are compliant with providing accurate commodity information right first time to Customs authorities.
An email will be sent to customers submitting non-compliant Shipping Instructions requesting the required information and a draft bill of lading will not be available until this provided. This policy will be applied to all Export, Import and transshipment cargo movements. The move comes as many Customs authorities are making Harmonized Commodity Codes mandatory in Customs Manifest declarations.
Customers submitting Shipping Instructions online via Maersk.com should input the six-digit HS Code in the dedicated field provided in the Cargo Description section. For multiple HS codes all the codes need to be listed out in the cargo description field.
For customers submitting Shipping Instructions via INTTRA, they should use the existing dedicated field for HS Codes, while customers submitting them via EDI should use the existing dedicated field for HS Codes.
Maersk Air Cargo will see a significant expansion of its airfreight network in the coming weeks with direct flights between China and the US. The services will connect manufacturing and commercial hubs in eastern China with those in the US East Coast and Mid-West. Maersk Air Cargo will also launch services between Hangzhou and Chongqing in China and its air cargo hub at Billund, Denmark. That comes after Maersk Air Cargo inaugurated it´s new airfreight service on October 31 with the start of two weekly flights between Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina and Incheon, South Korea (ICN) using the first of three recently purchased Boeing 767-300 freighters.
The carrier plans to launch two weekly flights between Hangzhou and Chicago Rockford via Incheon on November 28. This will be ramped up to six flights a week from around January 2. Hangzhou is a high-tech manufacturing hub around 190km southwest of Shanghai, while Chicago Rockford provides access to the US Mid-West.
Maersk Air Cargo is also expected to start two weekly flights Greenville-Spartanburg and Shenyang in northern China via Incheon on November 28, increasing to at least three flights a week from early January. Greenville-Spartanburg will provide access to the east and southwest including Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas, while Shenyang is close to Dalian, Tianjin and Beijing.
Maersk is continuing to make capacity adjustments on services from Asia to North America, Europe and the Mediterranean to better align with demand fluctuations. Unfortunately, this means some sailings will be blanked in the run up to the New Year. Full details can be found in our customer advisories: Advisories | News & Advisories | Maersk
Our overall goal remains to provide customers with predictability and to ensure minimal disruption to their supply chain by supplying alternative routings and coverage for the affected vessel positions. Further information about the latest changes is available here: Advisories | News & Advisories | Maersk
Changes in market demand also means we are suspending our TP23 service between Asia and the US East Coast while also adding a Charleston call to the TP17 service.The last vessel operating TP23 is Ian H departing Tanjung Pelepas on November 23, while the first TP17 vessel to call Charleston will be Axel Maersk with an ETA Hong Kong on November 27. We will continue to offer full-service coverage to minimize the impact on our customers by securing alternative connections on our other Transpacific services.
Vertical Insight: Retail
The retail lifestyle sector is facing mixed fortunes with a weakening global growth trend and growing inflationary pressure but also seeing resurgent consumer confidence in the US and Europe, according to several recent reports.
Highlighting the pessimistic outlook, global GDP growth is set to slip by 0.4% between 2020 and 2023, according to the Conference Board Global Economic Outlook 2023. That comes as inflation worsened in October in key markets such as Europe, which saw inflation rise to 9.9%, and China, with an increase of 2.8% while holding steady at around 8.3% in the US, data company Trending Economics said. Underlining the additional challenges facing China, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics said Q3 GDP growth topped 3.9% compared with a full year growth target of 5.5%.
But some retail and lifestyle sectors were more optimistic about prospects with supermarket and grocery retailers in the US expected an 8.5% compound average growth rate in Q4 monthly revenues, according to a report by the Chain Store Guide. This was due to less economic impact on staple grocery items.
Pharmacies and drug stores also expected a near 5.5% rise in monthly revenues in the fourth quarter as consumers had a renewed focus on health.
Clothing stores expected monthly revenues to remain flat in Q4, while restaurants expected to see a 4.4% monthly decline, the Chain Store Guide report said. That came as Trending Economics said consumers in the US and Europe were marginally more confident in October compared with the previous month.
Vertical Insight: Lifestyle
Home workouts have exploded in popularity since the early weeks of the pandemic, and the numbers certainly back that up. In China alone, the sales of athleisure wear have seen a 48.5% year-on-year increase since March of 2020*. Recent waves of Covid-19 and renewed lockdown measures have played their role in keeping these numbers consistently high, thanks to an increased focus on personal wellness and athletic activities among people of all ages.
Source: China Daily
Additionally, while Asia-Pacific has always been a manufacturing hub for sporting goods, the presence of global and local brands is growing rapidly in the region, helping it blossom into a viable market as well. The sports and outdoor equipment market in Asia-Pacific is projecting a compounded annual growth of 9.4% over the next 3 years*, and the potential of the region is undeniable.
Asia-Pacific’s position in the global economy has been growing and changing significantly over the past few years, particularly in its role as a manufacturing powerhouse. For instance, the sportswear market in Asia-Pacific alone was worth around USD 190 billion in 2020, a number that is expected to swell to almost USD 298 billion by 2025. Research by Global Data forecasts that the region is predicted to surpass both North America and Europe over the next decade. In that time, Asia-Pacific is expected to make up almost 36% of the global sportswear market, with numerous countries already contributing to this growth story.
Source: Global Data
As a longstanding production hub for international brands, China has had a huge role to play in Asia-Pacific’s sportswear boom. A report from e-commerce giant JD.com found that sports apparel sales in the country saw a 220% leap between 1 March and 7 April of 2022, during a fresh wave of Covid-19. The yoga equipment segment went a step further, witnessing an astounding average growth of nearly 700% during the same period*. Northeast Asia has seen certain trends of their own.
For instance, the demand for indoor exercise equipment in Japan went up by 21% in the months following the start of the pandemic*. Meanwhile, South Korea has seen a remarkable 169% rise in bicycle-related gear*, as people have gravitated towards more individual non-contact athletic activities in a post-Covid world.
Source: JD.com & Market Prospect
The sportswear sales numbers are very encouraging, with growth expected to continue at about 7.5% over the next 5 years in emerging markets like the Philippines and Vietnam*.
A rapidly maturing digital ecosystem is one of the major factors behind the upward trend of health and wellness in Asia-Pacific. A McKinsey report from January of this year found that over 45% of sporting good sales in 2021 were made through online channels – even after lockdowns had eased up in various parts of the world. Around 75-80% of consumers intend to continue using online channels to discover new fitness programs, and to buy any new sporting equipment they may need.
Make your supply chain more resilient to global trade headwinds
Asian airlines continued to see a decline in air cargo demand in September, according to figures published by airline trade group, the International Air Transport Association in early November. International cargo demand from Asia, expressed as cargo tonne-kilometres, dropped 9.3% in September from a year earlier compared with an 8.7% year-on-year drop in August. Asia Pacific is the largest air cargo market in terms of CTKs. By comparison, global industry-wide CTKs were 10.6% lower in September, at 20.33 billion, compared with a year ago, although seasonally adjusted CTKs slipped just 1.5% against the previous month. “International export demand remains weak. New export orders continue to shrink on a global level in September,” IATA said in its September market report. Capacity growth also further slowed in September with available cargo tonne-kilometers increasing by 2.4% in September from a year earlier.
“The softening air cargo demand is attributable to multiple headwinds,” including high inflation levels, fears of economic recession and the conflict in Ukraine. “As most of the world’s regions recover from the pandemic, post-pandemic consumer spending habits are likely to lean towards vacation travel more than home shopping via e-commerce,” IATA said.
Greater China: Air freight capacity increased in October after airlines resumed international passenger flights in the second half of the month. We expect to see an increase in clothing exports from the end of October as sales of winter clothing increase in key markets such as Europe and North America.
Airfreight costs from China to both Australia and New Zealand fell in November, while transit times improved as more capacity was added.
There has been an increase in capacity from Hong Kong to Europe and North America. There has been a further reduction in Hong Kong aviation fuel cost to HK$3.80/kg from November 1 from HK$4.70/kg on chargeable kgs.
Australia and New Zealand: There has been a reduction in freight costs on key corridors linking Southeast Asia and South Asia. Capacity constraints have eased on services to Vietnam leading to some lower freight prices. Qantas flights from Indonesia to Sydney and Melbourne remain the best cargo options for November with shortened transit times and lower freight costs. India and Bangladesh have also seen cost reductions although transit times for India cargo remain extended due to terminal processing times.
But the Trans-Tasman markets remain extremely tight and spot freight rate options are probably the best for our customers.
Maersk continues to proactively capture airfreight capacity on the main corridors to limit disruption as we approach end of year trading.
Vietnam: There is no peak season in Q4 and the market is unchanged from October.
Inland Services Update
Greater China: Maersk has launched two new rail corridors from Changsha and Yueyang to connect three ports in South China – Yantian, Shekou and Nansha. These new links provide an alternative to traditional trucking for our customers in Hunan province. The weekly services have a transit time of 3-4 days.
Warehousing operations in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan remain normal despite the COVID-19 situation.
Customs data show that from January to August this year, Shandong Province exported electric blankets of 59.223 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 58%; The number was 626,000, up 45% year on year. Among them, exports to the 27 EU countries reached 11.361 million yuan, up 26.5% year on year.
According to data from the General Administration of Customs, from January to September 2022, the cumulative total import and export of automobile nationwide was US$183.33 billion, a year-on-year increase of 10.8%. Among them: the import value was 68.45 billion US dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 7.5%; the export value was 114.88 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 25.7%.
Japan and Korea: The trucking industry is under pressure from fuel cost increases, although capacity is stable. We expect a traditional peak season ahead of the New Year holidays.
A cross-border sea-rail service from South Korea and Japan to Europe via Central Asia and the Black Sea area was launched in November which provides Maersk customers with simple processes, consolidated documentation with one Maersk B/L. The current frequency is one train a month. The main ports served are Busan and Incheon in South Korea and Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe in Japan.
Philippines: Typhoon Nalgae hit the country in early November which halted port operations for 48 hours in Manila, Batangas and Subic, and caused berthing delays for vessels. The recovery of operations is ongoing.
Economists predict that weaker external demand will weigh on the Philippine economy in 2023, although in the short-term, domestic demand will be sustained on the back of further reopening of the economy.
Maersk continues to enhance its omnichannel-fulfilment capabilities in the area, by adding a 100,000 sqm warehouse in Calamba, Laguna. The ground-breaking ceremony was held on November 9, 2022, and the new facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. The facility will integrate LF Logistics’ key service offerings into Maersk’s product portfolios. It will have a 75,000-pallet storage capacity with state-of-the-art distribution centre technologies. It will meet the needs for retail, pharmaceutical and E-Commerce customers.
Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore: Recessions in Europe and North America are starting to bite with volumes dropping by between 25-30%. Less-than-container load operations are not being hit quite that hard yet because the main commodities are FMCG/Lifestyle/apparel rather than big ticket items such as white goods, electronics and garden furniture. But co-loaders are telling us they are doing really well with an increase in bookings from freight forwarders. There are no restrictions on space nor equipment.
Indonesia: Inland volumes have been depressed for the last three months. The biggest impact has been on inland export volumes which have fallen due to a drop in orders from international buyers. We expect there could be a short rebound in volumes due to the pre-Christmas peak season in November. Trucking capacity is healthy.
Remark: Numbers are dynamic and subject to change.