Container demand growth is likely to moderate compared to 2021 supported by strong demand from the US. The outlook is more uncertain in Europe where we have seen the demand slowing. We continue to see ocean capacity impacted by port congestion and vessel delays with around 12%-15% of global container ship capacity effectively taken out of the market. But we also see an improvement in equipment availability in Asia.
This month, we share the latest trend before highlighting current challenges, and we also explain Maersk’s latest solutions to help you keep cargo moving.
Trade growth in the spotlight as the global economy faces
The global GDP outlook remains strong for 2022, led by expectations of a robust capex cycle, strong demand, rising wages, and cheap capital. Moreover, inventory replenishment will support goods trade well into 2022, and the channel shift to e-commerce is likely to keep pressure on outbound logistics capacity. But risks are increasing as rising prices and a reduction in government financial support challenge the global economy, threatening to erode demand and dampen trade.
Commentators have started to moderate growth projections while raising inflation forecasts, most notably in the US. Central to the impact on trade is how consumers in the US and Europe react to higher prices and less government support. Latest analyst forecasts indicate China’s economic growth will grow by more than 5% next year despite risks posed by a rapidly slowing property sector and uncertain domestic consumer demand.
These uncertainties have led to a normalization of global container demand growth compared with a projected 7% increase in 2021. This is based on a normalization of consumer demand as spending on tourism, dining and other services returns to pre-pandemic levels. But current demand levels on some trades, including on the Asia-North America trades, could remain stable as buoyant demand and inventory restocking continues into 2022.
Container market continues to show extraordinary volatility due to supply chain disruptions caused by port congestion, trucker shortages and changes in demand. Global container demand growth moderated to 2% in Q3, slightly lower than the 2.5% increase forecast, and down from double-digit growth rates in H1 2021. Growth in the third quarter was mainly driven by Latin America where trade grew 14% year-on-year and North America which saw a 4% increase supported by technology products and retail goods. North America container imports from Asia rose 2.7% in Q3, while European container imports from Asia fell by 3% due to a drop in consumer demand.
The container industry remains capacity constrained as port and landslide bottlenecks reduce the amount of available vessel capacity even as the nominal capacity increased 4.2% to 24.7m TEU in Q3 compared with a year earlier due to new vessel deliveries.
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A.P. Moller - Maersk
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