Keep your cargo sailing smoothly, with valuable insights from our Asia-Pacific Market Update for December.
As 2023 approaches, the outlook is more pessimistic than optimistic as the possibility of a global recession weighs on sentiment. Falling trade growth, tighter monetary controls, and weakening consumer demand all point to a tougher start to the New Year for the container shipping sector. But there are some bright spots too – port congestion especially in Europe and North America has been eased, largely ending the supply chain bottlenecks and disruption of the last couple of years.
China has also lifted virtually all its COVID-19 restrictions after abandoning its zero-COVID-19 policies of the last three years, raising the prospect of a trade resurgence, despite the foreseeable impact of soaring positive cases.
Global growth continued to stall in November with key indicators all sliding. The Global Composite Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) nudged lower to 48 in November against 49 the previous month while the manufacturing orders-to-inventory ratio also slipped from October’s level suggesting the growth momentum deteriorated further. Manufacturing export orders were again flat.
Inflationary pressures are still causing concern despite the possibility that headline inflation in the US and Europe has peaked due to lower energy prices. Central banks, including the US Fed, continue to raise interest rates to rein in inflation although there are worries such action could plunge leading economies further into recession.
Cargo demand remains weak and this is expected to continue into 2023 due to a combination of high inventory levels and the likelihood of a global recession that could already be underway. Latest figures show container volumes continued to fall in most regions in July-September compared with the same period last year but were particularly weak on European and Asia trades. North American imports and West Central Asia exports were also witnessing a certain level of decrease.
Global container volumes fell 4.3% in July-September compared with a year earlier. The biggest fall was in intra-Europe volumes which crashed 12.5% in July-September from the previous year, followed by North American imports which dropped 9.3%, and Asia imports which slumped 7.6%. But Oceania – Australia and New Zealand – was one of the few bright spots with export volumes growing 5.3% and imports rising 4.9% in July-September from a year ago.
Port delays in Europe and North America are also easing with the Clarkson port congestion index for northern Europe and the US West Coast both seeing an improvement in congestion levels.
Ocean spot freight rates are also falling and are now below those seen in the second half of 2020 and are moving closer to pre-pandemic rates.
Global Beef Trade is on the rise with an increased demand for beef imports in China. In the first three quarters of 2022, China imported 1.69 million tons of beef from all over the world, an increase of 200,000 tons from the same period in 2021. As of right now, the price of beef in the Chinese market stands at 65.80 Chinese Yuan per kilogram (equivalent to around 9.50 USD per kilogram), which adds up to only a one percent rise within the last year.
Meanwhile, across the equator in New Zealand, the export of protein has boomed. For example, in the single month of August 2022, New Zealand ports shipped 885 million USD worth of red meat, mostly to their three key markets of China
The United States, and Japan; a 34% increase since 2021. According to the Meat Industry Association, the import of beef to China from New Zealand has increased by 49%. This means that monthly, China imports nearly 24,000 tons of beef from New Zealand, a record high that has not been seen since June 2019.