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Shipping Sails Through Shallow Waters In 2018

The shipping industry is entering 2019 in a better state than the years before it. Reflecting on the state of the shipping industry after 2018, Intermodal said in its latest weekly report that “paraphrasing the words of a Chief economist in a latest report of the World Bank Group, the current state of the shipping market very much resembles that of a ship sailing, for the past decade, in shallow and tidy waters trying to avoid groundings. It was caught on a grounding two years ago, but is now freed by the rising tide. The Captain is of course relieved to be able to set sail. But this relief must be tempered by the urgency to sail toward deeper seas before the receding waters beach the ship again”.

According to Mr. Theodoros Ntalakos, SnP Broker, said that “until the mid of 2018, all the forecasts for 2018 and 2019 reflected optimism. More than half of the world’s countries were experiencing growth. There was a synchronized recovery resulting in faster and stronger growth in the near term. Unemployment has declined in USA, Europe and Japan, whilst inflation has not picked up, finding a point of golden balance. However, as the report from WBG points out, the medium term prospects tell a different story. Trade wars may be devastating and the protectionist threats have already cast their spell on the world’s growth, with uncertainty killing investment. Obviously this is also directly affecting the shipping market; adding on top of this the 2020 Sulphur cap regulations and untested solutions, the future of coal and the additional capex for WBT the result is more uncertainty, which makes shipping professionals more reluctant”.

Ntalakos added that “downside risks to global growth have risen in the past eight months and expectations for upside surprises have receded. Global growth downward revision during 2018 reflects events that suppressed activity in some major advanced economies, the negative effects of the trade threats and measures already implemented or approved, as well as a weaker outlook for some key emerging market and developing economies arising from country-specific factors, geopolitical tensions, and higher oil import bills”.

Intermodal’s analyst said that “on the ship supply side (>20,000dwt), the dry bulk fleet grew by 200 vessels in absolute terms since last year. Whilst 2018 will be remembered for the very few bulk carrier deliveries – from the 400 bulk carriers that were planned to be delivered in 2018 just 268 ships were delivered – there was also very low scrapping activity, just fifty bulk carriers were sold for demolition. For 2019 it is projected that shipbuilders will deliver about another 530 vessels. The orderbook has increased by about 200 vessels since the same time last year but if we go back another few years it is much smaller and appears much more reasonable. Compared to the existing fleet, new building orders are 7% for the Handysize, 6% for the Supramax and 10% for the Panamax/Kamsarmax sector and the Capesize sector is 11%”.

“The trade growth, i.e. demand for seaborne trade, in 2019 and 2020 and the fleet utilization will judge the fate of a lot of the older tonnage and whether the market is good enough to support additional investment (WBT) or not, in which case they will have to make way for the younger ones. Oil prices and the efficiency of each vessel will play a huge role on investment decisions. So, once again, we are approaching 2020 with uncertainty and volatility on both the demand and the supply side. 2019 is going to be interesting”, Ntalakos concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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