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Clarksons warns seaborne trade could contract by 5% in 2020, the largest decline for over 35 years

Clarksons Research has published updated guidance on the potential shipping downside brought about by the spread of coronavirus, warning seaborne trade this year could decline on a scale not seen since the disastrous shipping recession of the mid-1980s.

Summarising the briefing, Steve Gordon, managing director of Clarksons Research, commented: “As the global economic impact deepens, our latest estimates suggest that seaborne trade may contract by 5% through 2020, the biggest decline for over 35 years.”

Clarksons has also carried out a comparison with the situation during the financial crisis, suggesting the Great Lockdown, as the International Maritime Fund has termed this year’s recession, will potentially see a significantly deeper initial impact for shipping but a sharper rebound compared to the months following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Clarksons noted the current smaller newbuild orderbook – 10% of the fleet not 50% as it was 12 years ago; lower pre-disruption trade growth and better capitalised banks in assessing that the rebound this time could be quicker and sharper than after the global financial crisis.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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