London - The number of boxes being shipped around the globe by sea grew 0.5% – 191,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) – in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018. The growth figure, warns Bimco, is massively below those of earlier years, where the global demand in Q1 2017 grew by 6.6% and in Q1 2018 by 3.6%.
According to the Baltic and International Maritime Council, a growth rate as low as 0.5% is a critical issue for an industry used to much higher growth – double digits for many of the years between 1999 and 2007, growing by an average of 10.2%, and coming down to an average of 4.3% between 2012 and 2018. Having said that, the underlying numbers reveal a somewhat confusing demand picture.
Volumes on the intra-Asian trades fell during Q1 (-0.2%). The drop, explains Bimco, is a sign of weakening volumes in the supply chains and, ultimately, the result of fewer new export orders received by Asian manufactures in recent months – something that will impact outbound volumes in the coming months.