The outlook for container shipping is promising with an improving supply/demand scenario this year, speakers at Marine Money’s event in Shanghai yesterday concurred.
Michael Fitzgerald, deputy CFO of OOCL, said the growth in container volumes has been strong, especially on transpacific routes.
“Looking forward, we expect the growth to continue in the next six to 12 months, but we don’t think we can go back to the market 10 years ago,” Fitzgerald said.
“The demand side is looking optimistic, but we shouldn’t be carried away,” warned Jeremy Nixon, CEO of Ocean Network Express (ONE).
Bing Chen, CEO of Seaspan Corporation, also reminded the delegates that although the market outlook looks promising, the industry should still be cautious about speculation, which shouldn’t be encouraged.
Seaspan owns a diversified containership fleet with ships ranging from 2,400 teu to 14,000 teu. “The cascading effect in container shipping, we haven’t seen it much,” Chen said.
Lu Zhendong, deputy general manager of the shipping department at Bank of Communications Financial Leasing, noticed that the containerization trend in cargo shipping is growing, which could also benefit the recovery of the sector.
“We have definitely seen more improved demand side, especially more diversified cargo types including gas and chemicals being shipped by containers,” Lu said.
Talking about the ongoing consolidation in the container shipping sector, Lu reckoned so far the outcome of the consolidation has been good which has helped the market to stabilise. He predicted further consolidation coming up.
“We see this consolidation as very positive for the industry as a whole, especially from the Seaspan perspective,” Chen said.
“The key of this consolidation is to provide stability and at the end of day, we, as containership operators, are the servants of the world trade. So by having a few strong carriers is a positive run for the industry and the world trade. One of the key challenges is the ability to return the saving to the shareholders rather than back to the customers in the market,” Nixon concluded.