MILAN, June 7 (Class Editori) – New challenges for the maritime cargo transport with containers. Italian ports as well will have to deal with these new rules, both to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge and to minimize possible negative consequences. The world economy slowed down, so that in 2019 the growth in global container handling will be stable, while the trade heart is moving more and more to the East.
A process of consolidation and vertical integration between carriers is underway in the maritime transport business, which, compared to some years ago, has drastically changed the scenario. Notwithstanding this, there are promising aspects: first of all the regulations in force since 2020, that will impose a limit on emissions and for many ships, therefore, the use of fuels with a lower sulfur content but which will be more expensive than that used today. This means that the shipping companies will prefer to reduce their navigated miles as much as possible in order to reduce consumption. Therefore, for ships arriving from or destined for Asia, Italian ports will become more appealing, compared to competitors in Northern Europe.
This is what Daniele Testi observed – the Contship Italia Group marketing director – during a conference organized by Atena in which he was called to describe the world scenario of containerized traffic. With the uncertainties that remain on the market due to various factors (Brexit, dispute on duties, Chinese economy and debt, instability of Venezuela, etc.), the numbers reported by Texts say that in 2018 there were 779 million TEU (20 feet container measuring units) moved around the world (+4.3%), thus including empty containers and transhipment, while global container traffic was 219 million TEU (+5%). For 2019, taking into consideration possible worsening in the dispute between the USA and China, forecasts remain positive, albeit with more moderate growth rates, in line with the global economy slowdown. Port handling will be 810 million TEU (+3.9%), while global traffic should reach 225 million TEU (+2.9%). In 2023 the total global traffic should reach 263.9 million TEU, +19.6% compared to 2018.
Then Testi pointed out how traffic is moving toward East, as China weighs 57.7% on the total of port handled containers; meanwhile Italy passes 10 million TEU (transshipment included) is worth around 7.4%. Talking about ongoing changes in the container open sea transport sector, following the strengthening of the market and the gathering of different vehicles surviving three alliance – and controlling around 96% of cargo capacity on the routes connecting the Mediterranean Sea with Asia – the data that Testi shows is telling of a gradual reduction of offered scheduled services in the last 7 years; on the contrary, world cargo capacity and ship sizes keep increasing. After in 2018 works started on 26 Ultra Large Container Carrier ships – capable of holding over 18 thousand TEU plus a cargo offering of 5,215,000 TEU – 22 similar carriers will start operations in 2019 (around 460 thousand TEU in capacity), while another 28 (660 thousand TEU) are expected to sail the seas in 2020.
Offer and demand for cargo ships along the routes connecting the Mediterranean Sea with Asia seem to keep growing hand in hand in hand, while available cargo usage rates stay high (80-90%). Regarding hire rates, in 2018 for 25 weeks out of 52, the hiring rates for courses toward the Mediterranean Sea (1,623 dollars per 40-foot container) surpassed that of Norther Europe (1,606 dollars).
As for South Europe – in particular Italian – ports, there is another factor playing a role in increasing convenience: the new regulations on naval emissions, enforcing clean (and more expensive) fuel usage on ships starting January 2020, are going to cost shipping companies a 20-30% more on hires. In total, the maritime transport sector is expecting to be paying 15 billion dollars in extra costs due to these new regulations, and 50-75% of it is going to be claimed back from the shipped good prices. This means that a port like the La Spezia one, where a ship coming from Singapore can save around 1,900 nautical miles (-22.8%) on travel, gains ground against other places like the Rotterdam port in the Netherlands.
Notice: No person, organization and/or company shall disseminate or broadcast the above article on Xinhua Silk Road website without prior permission by Xinhua Silk Road.