Slowly but surely, container trade from Asia to East Coast South America is picking up speed. According to global shipping consultancy Drewry’s Container Insight Weekly report, the trend that began in the fourth quarter 2016 continued into the first quarter 2017, albeit at a slower pace. “Statistics supplied by Datamar show that southbound Asia to ECSA box volumes increased by 4.6% year-on-year in the first quarter, following on from an 8.6% hike in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, the trade hadn’t witnessed any quarterly growth since the start of 2015," reads the document.
Brazil & Argentina
The study shows that the recovery is being driven entirely by the Brazilian inbound market, which posted two rounds of double-digit gains in the past two quarters. In contrast, the inbound trade to the Plate region of Argentina and Uruguay was down by 13% in the first quarter to follow comparatively tame growth of 2.6% in 4Q16.
Both the Brazilian and Argentinean economies are suffering due to recession, inflation and currency devaluation. Nevertheless, there is an expected boost in consumer spending in the second-half of the year thanks to salary increases arriving from collective bargaining agreements.
Nothing much has happened to capacity in the trade since January when Hyundai Merchant Marine moved from being a slot charterer to vessel provider on one of three weekly services. Neither have carriers looked to tweak the available slots through void sailings with services operating at full-strength since March.
Volatile monthly loads combined with the reluctance to adjust capacity through void sailings has meant that Asia-ECSA ship utilization has been very up and down in recent months, but nonetheless spot market rates have been relatively stable through this period.
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