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2016 Outlook, country highlights, reefer trends

Maersk Line Latin America Q1 trade update

On May 13th, Maersk Line released its first quarter 2016 trade update for Latin America. 

Latin America outlook for 2016

Maersk Line projects a contraction in trade for 2016 across the East Coast, primarily driven by Brazil’s recession and lesser so by Argentina. The region is expected to remain weak throughout 2016 with Brazil struggling to stay afloat amid recession which is likely to continue into the following year. On the West Coast containerized trade is expected to grow in line with countries’ GDP growth.

“With global demand at an all-time low, Latin American economies will be forced to compete more than ever with each other,” explains Omar Shamsie, President of Maersk Line Latin America and Caribbean. “With many countries competing in the same commodities, like bananas from Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia, or scrap metal and avocados out of Colombia and Mexico, it’s clear that the race is on. We have seen increased focus on and investment in exports in the region, including Colombia’s investment in avocado production to compete with its neighbours in international markets. This has been helped by investment in reefer container technology, which controls atmosphere and temperature, allowing produce to travel further than ever.”

Selected country highlights

Brazil – whereas the last quarter of 2015 saw trade drop 8.1%, with both exports and imports declining, January brought some good news with a 21% increase in exports and February saw exports grow 16%. This is a solid indicator that Brazilian exporters are beginning to leverage the exchange rate. Imports dropped 30% in both January and February, compared to the respective months in 2015.

Ecuador – negative 2015 result in import volume growth of -12%. Exports grew at 1% year on year, with one of its largest export commodities, bananas, growing in line with the average. January 2016 saw solid export growth at 8% compared with January 2015, while imports fell 22% year-on-year. In 2016 it is expected that Ecuador will maintain a similar growth trend as registered in 2015. The “El Niño” weather phenomenon is likely to impact exports, especially tuna, during the year.

Colombia – following a tough 2015, Colombia is showing signs of leveraging the current exchange rate against the dollar. Japan is now Colombia’s second largest Asian trading partner. In 2015 the country received 29% of Colombians containers exported to Asia. Coffee exports to Japan grew by 33% alone compared to 2014.

Mexico – 8% growth in total container throughput in 2015, mainly due to high import growth of around 13%. Exports growth was much lower at a 0.9% - a result of lower commodity prices in goods such as iron ore, avocados and vegetables as well as weaker demand from China. In 2016 imports are expected to grow at 8% year on year, driven by the electronics and automotive industries. Exports are expected to maintain growth at around 1%.

Argentina – exports in February decreased 4% compared with the same month in 2015. Although the country has started to show interest in a freer trade panorama, it is still early days. The most likely scenario will see trade pick up from 2017, with 2016 serving as a transitional year.

The Maersk trade updates are published quarterly and provide an overview of trade developments in emerging markets – primarily in Latin America and Africa.

To view the trade report, and other, please visit

For more information:
Mikkel Linnet
Maersk Line Press Officer
Tel: +45 3363 8515

Stephanie Gillespie
Maersk Line Regional Comms Manager, Latin America
Tel: +5072106597

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