Stopford predicts short sea box shipping renaissance

The world’s most famous shipping analyst today predicts a big revival for short sea container shipping. Speaking in Brussels at a conference organised by the Federation of European Private Port Operators (FEPORT), Dr Martin Stopford, president of Clarkson Research, will tell delegates that a combination of technological, environmental and economic factors will likely lead to a renaissance in regional container shipping.

“The new challenge in containers is that after 50 years of containerisation, the industry should try to implement the door-to-door transport model,” Stopford will say later today in a speech seen by Splash, adding: “This was promised in 1967 but frustrated by lack of technology. This is long overdue, in the age of rapidly growing B2B trade, and the technology is now available.”

Although China is promoting the Belt and Road trade philosophy, Stopford feels it is more likely that, looking ahead, much of the trade development will be regional, notably within Asia and Europe.

“I would not be surprised if this was not associated with a renaissance in manufacturing industry as the Asian costs rise and the I4 revolution gains ground, reducing the cost differential which underpinned the rapid growth of East-West trade in recent decades,” Stopford predicts.

The Clarkson executive will use his speech to imagine a massive change to the main box tradelanes brought about by digitalisation.

“Surely inter-regional container conveyor belts supported by fast and flexible short sea distribution services would yield much better returns for the customer, the carriers and, most importantly, the environment,” Stopford will say, stressing that environmental pressure will see short sea shipping volumes grow.

“Wherever possible the sea transport system must be adapted to achieve the lowest door-to-door carbon footprint. I believe this is likely to encourage the use of short sea distribution systems,” the famous analyst is due to tell delegates later this morning.

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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