Shipping Market Will Rebound: It’s Just a Matter of When, not If
In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal noted that “the recent Coronavirus outbreak in China has led to a global health emergency by World Health Organization and it is yet to be seen how long the phenomenon will last compared also to the SARS outbreak in 2002. By now it is evident that the spread of the virus has been much more rapid, with more than 40,000 incidents and 1,000 deaths officially reported across 25 countries to date, while these figures are expected to keep going up”.
According to Mr. Stelios Kollintzas, Intermodal’s Tanker Chartering Broker, “the current situation has affected various businesses and industries around the globe and especially the shipping industry. The outbreak has knocked what was a positive sentiment during the start of the year across all sectors and disturbed the markets worldwide. The markets that are deeply dependent to China’s trade have been heavily affected, while the outbreak came to a period concurrent with the Chinese New Year holidays. The extended period of China’s shutdown has shrunk trade volumes worldwide and freight rates across all sectors have plummeted. It is safe to say that the economic distress will affect the China’s economic growth for the first quarter of 2020 and the annual GDP growth as well”.
He added that “the central location of Wuhan, where the virus originated, which is strategically located on the Yangtze River, is one of the globe’s busiest waterways. More than two billion tonnes of cargo are transported through ports on the mainstream of the river every year. Likewise, more than 80% of China’s inland marine traffic moves on the Yangtze River, while Wuhan itself handles close to 1.5 mill containers a year. Seven out of the ten container ports are located in China and seems that the container industry will be the first to feel the turmoil from the virus effect”.
Intermodal’s analyst also noted that “through Wuhan thousands of tons of coal, steel and crude oil are supplied. Therefore, any major situation that grounds for prolonged disruption on the supply chain from these regions results to great effects for both China and every shareholder that is in business with China and imports goods from there. Moreover, the factories shutdown has resulted in a slowdown of manufacturing and industrial production. As discussed the intra-Asian container shipping market is the first to feel the effect from the Coronavirus and it is expected that the long-haul trades to North America and Europe will be affected. The extended holidays and emergency measures to tackle the virus are estimated to reduce cargo volumes at Chinese ports including Hong Kong by over 6 million TEUs (20 foot equivalent units) in the first quarter of 2020 and forecast global container throughput growth would fall by at least 0.7% in 2020. Looking forward, the industry widely believes this dynamic will be short – lived. As it was the case with SARS in the past, the supply chains should hopefully resume, resulting in a demand surge, increased trade volumes and even higher than before the virus outbreak freight rates”, Kollintzas concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide