No improvement along the global supply chains in sight

In 2021, the demand for consumer goods produced in Asia and then transported in containers increased sharply. This led to a massive increase in maritime traffic, which often exceeded the capacity of the major container ports and caused congestion as ships had to wait to unload their cargo. Labour shortages due to high levels of sick leave and a lack of storage space also limited the ports’ ability to handle more cargo. According to surveys by Sea Intelligence, port congestion in the first weeks of 2022, particularly on the US West Coast, but also on the US East Coast and increasingly in Europe, resulted in a container ship spending an average of 10.9 days at berth or waiting. Compared to 2021, the average laytime has doubled.

In view of the war in Ukraine, China’s zero-covid policy and the huge increase in fuel prices, delays and persistent supply shortages continue to shape the outlook for world trade this year. The WTO reported a 0.2% year-on-year decline in global trade for March 2022 and overall rather stagnant trends for the first months of the year. Thus, delays were somewhat mitigated by some weakening of demand, especially in China. However, the delays are still so enormous, that supply chains will remain strained for the rest of the year. In addition, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prices for a number of goods have increased, which is noticeably fuelling inflation.

Due to disrupted supply chains as well as container shortage, record profits were achieved in container shipping.  At the beginning of 2022, spot freight and charter rates were at an all-time high. Shipping companies such as Maersk, MSC and Hapag-Lloyd reported one new record result after another and invested in new container ships, among others. According to CRSL, orders for 681 containerships with a slot capacity of 5.2 million TEU have been placed since the beginning of 2021. With a capacity of 6.6 million TEU, the global order book reached the highest levels in 14 years. As a reminder, in October 2020, the order book had reached a low of 1.9 million TEU following the financial crisis.

The ISL SSMR 2022-4 highlights the current developments around container shipping. It is available via download from our webshop and will be sent to our subscribers shortly.

The special feature topics of each SSMR issue are:

  • Issue 1: World Merchant Fleet
  • Issue 2: Tanker Market
  • Issue 3: Bulk Carrier Market
  • Issue 4: Container Shipping
  • Issue 5: General Cargo and Container Shipping
  • Issue 6: Passenger and Cruise Shipping
  • Issue 7: Shipbuilding and Shipbuilders
  • Issue 8: Major Shipping Nations
  • Issue 9: World Seaborne Trade and World Port Traffic