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HANSA 05-2022

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MÄRKTE | MARKETS

MÄRKTE | MARKETS Lockdowns, war and inflation The outlook for seaborne trade is worsening as the world economy falters. Will congestion and longer trading distances prevent rates from falling? By Michael Hollmann The mood in the shipping markets has turned cautious, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and inflationary pressure set to rein in global economic growth this year and next year. Worse yet, prompt demand for tonnage got hit by renewed lockdowns in China. Closures of factories and warehouses in the Shanghai region along with restrictions on inland transport are hampering the flow of goods with immediate effect, both in containers and dry bulk. Time charter rates for bulk carriers saw quite a correction over the past four weeks, driven by losses in the Pacific from very strong levels during March. The Baltic Dry Index dropped by around 20 % between end of March and early April and it took until after Easter for a positive trend to kick in. By 21 April the loss month-on-month was narrowed to –13%. With the escalating Covid situation in China weighing down on activity in the east, the higher spot earnings levels for supramax and handysize bulkers in the Pacific began to crumble and slid below levels in the Atlantic for the first time in many weeks. At the same time, reemerging tonnage demand in the US Gulf sent rates in that region on an upward trajectory again. Overall, rates for the smaller vessels are still comparably robust with the Baltic indices showing average time charter earnings of 29,100 $/day for 58,000 dwt supramaxes and 26,500 $/d for larger handies (38,000 dwt) as this issue of HANSA goes to press. Panamaxes managed to contain their losses at –10 % chiefly due to elevated grain liftings and higher rates on the East Coast of South America while rates in the Pacific were under pressure. Capes are struggling Capesizes continue to struggle the most, showing their worst performance visà-vis the smaller bulkers in a long time. At 13,600 $/d their average earnings are only half those for handies and panamaxes. Brokers blame a lull in iron ore volumes from Brazil to China for the lack of momentum. Year-to-date shipping volumes for capesize bulkers out of Brazil are down more than 8 %, according to Clarksons Platou. During March, steel output in China was lagging levels one year earlier by more than 10 %. General expectations for cargo growth have weakened following the recent revisions to world GDP forecasts. The IMF now expects global growth to slow from 6.1% in 2021 to just 3.6 % in 2022 and in 2023 which is 0.8 and 0.2 percentage points less than in its January World Economic Outlook update. Previously, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had even lowered its world GDP forecast to just 2.8 % for 2022 while growth in global merchandise trade was reduced from 4.7 to 3.0 %. Both organisations justify their revisions with the direct and indirect effects of the war in Ukraine. Still bulk carrier owners hope that any slowdown in volume growth can be offset by ton mile increases due to trade shifts resulting from the war and sanctions. They hope for increased wheat volumes from Brazil and Argentina VIEWPOINT Box rates to surge after Shanghai lockdown Container volumes and freight rates ex China have been falling lately. But don’t expect the lull to continue! There could be a sharp reversal after the Shanghai lockdown, warns Silke Fischer, head of ocean freight (product management) at German freight forwarder Leschaco. The war in Ukraine and inflation are dampening global growth. Do you feel the impact on ocean freight business? Silke Fischer: We feel that despite congestion and fleet inefficiencies, there is more space than demand available in trades worldwide. Incoming transport orders in ocean forwarding are trending down as well. We think this is a signal of reducing demand, compounded by supply shortages and cost inflation in manufacturing. For sure, the outbreak of war on European ground is a huge human tragedy and a shock to many economies. Ukraine and Russia are not important for global liner trades, however their supplies of oil/gas, steel, heavy equipment and intermediate products for chemical and automotive are essential for Europe’s industry. The resulting shortages and inflation have an enormous impact. This comes on top of a slowdown in China, first due to restrictions around the Olympic games and now due to the lockdown in Shanghai. Silke Fischer – Head of Global Product Management Sea Freight – Leschaco How are you coping with the Shanghai lockdown? Will there be a »whiplash« effect due to a cargo backlog once restrictions are lifted? Fischer: We thought we had learnt to deal with lockdowns in 2 years of pandemic. However, the complete lockdown of Shanghai is a calamity for logistics operators. Unlike before we are not even able to deploy a minimum number of colleagues in our offices to handle daily business like courier or bank matters. The city is sealed off. The ports are still © Leschaco 10 HANSA – International Maritime Journal 05 | 2022

Orders & Sales – Container Ships New Orders – Despite uncertainties about future world trades, shipowners continue to order new ships. What is striking is that despite of being titled as »transitional solution«, many are opting for LNG. Most recently, MSC, Seaspan and Yang Ming, for example, are said to have ordered newbuild series with corresponding systems. In the meantime, the share of LNG newbuildings in the total order book has reached 25 %. Secondhand Sales – Activity in the Second-Hand market has recently slowed down somewhat. Prices are high and the Ukraine war is causing uncertainty. However, there is no standstill. Contships is said to have bought the German ship »Vega Sachsen« (1,118 TEU) and MSC the »SITC Davao« (2,526 TEU) for undisclosed prices. The German food discounter Lidl attracted attention, as it is said to have not only chartered ships for its own »Tailwind« line, but also bought the »Talassa« (5,527 TEU). Demolition Sales – When will we see you again, dear scrapping market? No demo news in container shipping in recent weeks ... to the Med and more long-haul coal shipments from Russian Baltic ports and Murmansk to destinations outside Europe. Turning point for shortages? Meanwhile, sentiment in container shipping is cooling as well. The indications are that cargo volumes continued to fall since official data for February already showed a –5.6 % drop year-on-year in global loadings. Although port congestion has kept fleet utilisation high and the commercially idle fleet low (45 ships per 11 April), freight forwarders report a growing surplus of slot capacity in trades ex Far East (see »Viewpoint«). Spot freight rates on Far East eastbound and westbound trades were dropping week by week lately although they remain historically high. Prompt demand for charter tonnage also slowed as liner operators stepped back to wait and see how the situation evolves. Analysts say that the next few weeks will be critical. If there is no seasonal upswing in trade and freight rates from May, the market might have gone into downturn. Container ship t / c market 4000 3500 3000 2500 18.11.21 MÄRKTE | MARKETS COMPASS ConTex 21.04.22 Month on Month 3,280 -8.3 % Container freight market WCI Shanghai-Rotterdam WCI Shanghai-Los Angeles Dry cargo / Bulk Baltic Dry Index Time charter averages / spot: $ /d Capesize 5TC average Panamax 5TC average (82k) Supramax 10TC average (58k) Handysize 7TC average (38k) 10,364 $ /FEU 8,758 $ /FEU Forward / ffa front month (May 22): $ /d Capesize 180k Panamax 82k MPP TMI – Toepfer's Multipurpose Index 2,239 13,571 27,419 29,105 26,514 21,243 28,390 - 7.4 % - 11.8 % - 12.8 % - 16.9 % - 9.9 % - 1 2.8 % - 1 6.8 % - 160.4 % - 9.2 % April '22 22,764 $ open, however trucks are severely restricted, warehouses and factories are closed. As a result, import cargo is piling up in the ports while urgently needed export cargoes cannot get to the pier. Initially, it was possible to re-route containers via Ningbo, but not anymore due to congestion. For exports from the neighbouring Jiangsu province we now ship via Qingdao further up north. Overall export volumes came down due to the lockdown, as a result there is now plenty of shipping capacity for Far East westbound. Rates have also dropped. This is just temporary, though. Once the lockdown is lifted, ports will get swamped with cargoes. Shipping capacity will then dry up and especially spot rates surge again. So, what’s the medium-term outlook for freight rates if the global economy slows while congestion lingers on for some time? Fischer: Rates won’t come down to prepandemic levels even if transport demand subsides because of all the cost drivers for carriers: sky-high charter rates and carbon reduction/IMO 2023 to name but a few. Also, container lines are better at capacity management in order to support freight levels than they were in the past. Short-term we expect a rebound in spot rates ex Far East when Chinese exports ramp up again after the lockdowns. In some trades such as the transpacific we wouldn’t be surprised to see rates rise to the peaks we saw in the spot market last year. As far as longterm contracted rates are concerned, carriers are prepared to fix at levels that are acceptable to shippers, but increasingly at special contract terms similar to slot charter agreements: customers pay for their space even if they can’t present all the cargo. Interview: Michael Hollmann Tankers Baltic Dirty Tanker Index Baltic Clean Tanker Index Shortsea / Coaster Norbroker 3,500 dwt earnings est. € HC Shortsea Index BMTI/EUSSIX Inter-Black Sea ($/t) Bunkers April '21 8,092 $ 12,500 tdw MPP/HL »F-Type« vessel for a 6–12 months TC VLSFO 0.5 Rotterdam $ /t MGO Rotterdam $ /t Forward / Swap price Q3/22 VLSFO 0.5 Rotterdam $ /t 1,589 1,084 6,000 33.97 37.33 875 1,300 674 + 48.3 % + 7.7 % - 4.8 % + 1.7 % + 16.6 % Norbroker: spot t/c equivalent assessment basis round voyage North Sea/Baltic; HC Shipping & Chartering index tracking spot freights on 5 intra-European routes; BMTI/EUSSIX: 3,000 t Odessa to Sea of Marmara + 0.0 % + 9.2 % - 7.4 % Data per 21.04.2022, month-on-month HANSA – International Maritime Journal 05 | 2022 11

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