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Rodolphe Saadé: May will be the worst month

Rodolphe Saadé, the CEO of CMA CGM, the world’s fourth largest containerline, is anticipating May will be the slowest month for box movements across the globe thanks to the coronavirus.

Interviewed by French newspaper Le Figaro yesterday, Saadé said he was confident that utilisation rates on his ships would remain strong through to the end of April.

“The situation is going to be tense in May. We are estimating a 30% drop in global shipping,” Saadé conceded, predicting that between 10 to 15 of his approximate 500-ship fleet would go into hot lay-up.

“The problem is no longer in China, where the factories are running at 100%; it comes from European and American customers,” Saadé said, suggesting that box volumes would not start to show much growth around the world through to the third quarter this year.

Asked about his vision of how world trade might change once the coronavirus recedes, Saadé called for “more balanced world trade”. He denounced “excessive globalisation” which he said would need to be modified.

“The crisis will be a catalyst for intra-regional developments,” the CMA CGM boss said with production of strategic goods such as health products relocating from Asia.

However, the CEO of CMA CGM said he was convinced that China will remain more competitive on certain consumer goods, taking televisions as an example.

CMA CGM subsidiary CEVA Logistics is in the process of delivering 16m masks from China to France this week.

Last week, Splash reported how CMA CGM had sent ships via the Cape of Good Hope in both directions from and to Asia and Europe, giving the Suez Canal a miss, to soak up capacity and save costs during the downturn brought about by the spread of coronavirus, a move that has sparked outrage with environmentalists at the extra 3,100 nautical miles sailing time.

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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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