GIA announces the release of a comprehensive global report on Maritime Containerization market. Global market for Maritime Containerization is projected to reach 731 million TEUs by the year 2017. Growth will be primarily driven by increasing sea trade, developments in shipping networks and transshipment hubs, encouraging investments in port terminal facilities, growing capacity and increased frequency of global maritime freight transport. The market also stands to benefit from soaring demand for oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) across Asia and the resulting growth in the transport of liquid and gaseous commodities.
Shipping containers represent the core of a highly automated system for transit of goods. Although humble in appearance, shipping containers also known as maritime containerization, is the greatest invention of the modern era responsible for slashing transportation costs to all time low and for triggering boom in global trade. These steel containers are in effect the building blocks of the modern global economy, given the extent to which these utilitarian products have optimized transportation and enabled globalization. These containers, for instance, have reduced shipping costs and packaging costs through standardization of loads. Interestingly, China’s emergence to the forefront of global economic power as the world’s largest cost competitive exporting giant has been made possible only by the low cost transportation enabled by shipping containers. Growth in the containerized maritime transportation industry is closely linked to the demand and consumption of goods worldwide and the level of movement of goods from one country to another. For instance demand for shipping containers is directly proportional to the GDP in a given economy. Globalization, which took off during 1980s and the resulting meteoric trade and economic growth in developing Asian markets such as Taiwan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and China, have traditionally fuelled the growth in containerization. The importance of maritime transport can be put into perspective by the fact that almost 90% of goods traded across borders are transported across the oceans and seas of the world.
In the upcoming years, growth will be driven by developing countries in Asia-Pacific encouraged by continued industrial development, expansion in commercial operations of business organizations, and increase in trade activities. In China, economic stimulus packages that put more emphasis on sea transport infrastructure development is expected to significantly boost container-shipping demand in the years ahead. In this regard, the market will benefit from the government’s push to restructure shipping routes, optimize port functions and expand the scale of marine fuel supply services. Also, India and Middle East will offer immense opportunities fuelled by population growth, rising urbanization, economic growth, increasing cargo hubs, deregulation, and rising inter-regional trade. Architectural improvements in container ships for superior maneuverability on bendy rivers on the world’s major shipping lanes and ports, also bodes well for maritime transport, which in turn will benefit maritime containerization.
Technology innovations, such as, self-unloading of ships, automated handling of containers, satellite tracking for speed and efficiency in operation, better use of information technology to improve navigational, environmental and operational safety profile, are also poised to benefit the market in the upcoming years. Technologies, such as, Smart and Security Tradelanes (SST) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) will find increased use in terminals thus fueling improvements in yard storage, berth handling and intra-terminal transport.
A key noteworthy trend is the growing size of containership. Over the past decade, global container transport volume more than tripled. In response to the trend, demand for 53-foot containerships witnessed sizeable increase, since switching to larger vessels provide economic advantages to both the customer and shipping company. In view of the developments in terminal infrastructure and capabilities and shoreside facilities, coupled with the need to optimize consignment size and turnaround times, ultra large container ships (ULCS) will grow in popularity. A majority of ULCS fleet development is forecast to occur in Asia-Europe, transpacific and pendulum trade routes. Going forwards, vessel size will continue to increase, although at a slower pace as shipping lines attempt to balance growing global trade demands with safety protocols, as larger shipping containers increase the risk of container losses. The ecological impact of lost shipping containers is also forecast to come to the fore in sync with the development of the containerization industry. For instance, the expanding human footprint on deep seafloor in the form of lost containers on ocean floor, and the threat caused to marine species as a result of degradation of containers and release of toxic substances from container contents, will attract immense attention.
The EU shipping industry currently remains nervous, as market sentiments continue to swing between hopes and fears. With mixed signals emanating from the unfolding drama surrounding the debt crisis, it still remains too early on to forecast the reactive impact on the maritime containerization market. The macro themes affecting Europe include the prolonging of the sovereign debt crisis as a result of the half-measures implemented till date in attempts to stave off the crisis, a dysfunctional financial system that is fueling a slow-motion economic collapse and fears over reduced consumer spending and slower economic growth as a result of austerity measures. While nothing remains certain and the potential outcomes of the crisis remain numerous, the market continues to stand threatened by the future playout of the Eurozone’s debt crisis. At the extreme pessimistic end of the spectrum is the belief that if the debt and financial dominoes begin to fall across the core euro-zone economies, shipping lines will struggle from the ensuing glut in capacity.
Date: 10 April, 2012
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