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Mind the gap


Full-year 2015 demand statistics are now in and show that the trade imbalance widened for ‘East-West’ trades, but narrowed for ‘North-South’ lanes. Which trades were hot or cold last year?

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Drewry’s latest Container Forecaster report, published at the end of December, predicted that 2015 would be the second-slowest year for loaded container traffic this century, behind 2009 (see above figure). Now that the full-year demand statistics from our various sources have landed in our inbox, we can properly assess the damage.


Using the 14 trades regularly covered in Container Insight Weekly as our sample, two-way bi-lateral container traffic grew by a measly 1.4% in 2015. That means volumes in those routes only increased by around 1 million teu over 2014 to 80 million teu, which is about 41% of the estimated world total.


The overall growth rate hides some of the far larger ups and downs witnessed across the trades. For example, the so-called main East-West trades between them could only manage headhaul growth of 1.7% (equal to an extra 625,000 teu) but growth rates ranged from a high of 16.4% for Asia-to-East Coast North America to a low of -4.0% for Asia-to-Mediterranean. There were similar variations for the East-West backhaul trades and both legs of the North-South trades.


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