Market update and outlook

Customers are continuing to face a raft of challenges as the Russia-Ukraine conflict weighs on the longer-term outlook for the global economy amid concern that inflation and higher energy prices will lead to lower consumer demand, damaging international trade. The short-term, however, is more positive. Cargo volumes through Shanghai are returning to pre-lockdown levels and demand from US consumers is pulling forward the peak shipping season on North American trades.

 

Market Trends

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the ensuing sanctions imposed on Moscow are adding to inflationary pressures globally and raising fears of a possible recession. The situation is adding pressure on central banks to tighten monetary policies including increasing interest rates. Key to the outlook for trade is how consumers and businesses react to the elevated uncertainty, higher prices, and policy changes. In the near-term, global expansion will continue, supported by pent-up demand and the re-opening of economies. But longer-term, substantial monetary policy tightening will increasingly weigh on economic activity with additional concerns about the outlook for China which has COVID-19 led economic consequences. Potential scenarios depend heavily on the path of inflation and the geopolitical fallout from the war in Ukraine.

 

Trade Outlook

Global trade volumes declined by 2.5 percent in May compared with a year earlier and year-to-date growth is down by a similar level, although these come off last year’s elevated levels. Container imports into Europe were negatively impacted by the Ukraine conflict as volumes following the imposition of sanctions and a broader weakening in demand. Imports into Asia were depressed due to COVID-19 lockdowns in China and a general slowdown in China’s housing market. Imports into North America were stable at a very high level. The outlook remains highly uncertain, and we mainly see downside risks to our base scenario.

 

Ocean Update

The situation in Shanghai is normalizing but is still both fluid and hard to predict – this combined with the strikes in Europe and the continuous congestion in the ports in North America means that our customers have a larger need for flexibility and agility than ever.

Terminal congestion, especially in North America and Europe, is continuing to adversely affect schedule reliability. Strikes in Germany, especially at Bremerhaven, Hamburg and Wilhelmshaven, have exacerbated the disruption caused by vessel delays. North American port congestion is worsening, increasing the likelihood of more missed sailings. cannot expect the North American ports situation to improve in the coming months, we are seeing more overflow in the network due to strong demand and missed sailings, we would kindly suggest customers prepare more lead time between ETA and actual departure time.

 

Air Update

In China, volumes have fallen in July due to the impact of summer holidays. There is minimal impact on airfreight from sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks in China. Carriers have cancelled several flights to Europe and North America due to lower cargo demand. Air cargo freight rates have also fallen, making air cargo more attractive to customers. In Hong Kong, capacity has increased as airlines reintroduced more flights after the government eased COVID-19 restrictions.

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