Companies in the maritime container transportation are going through its most difficult times in the last 60 years. Before the start of the global crisis of 2008, promising foresight related to the general trend of growth in the global maritime transport, sparked a huge wave of investment in new, even bigger container ships that can accommodate over 18,000 TEU.
However, a sudden increase of transport capacities is not accompanied by an equivalent increase in the volume of container traffic. Consequently, that has led to a significant drop in freights, which are currently lower than in the times of recession. To be saved from destruction, the world’s major shipping companies in 2013 began with mutual associations with the aim of consolidating a global industry of marine transportation, which should result in savings. Nevertheless, building new container ships with even greater capacity happens at the almost monthly basis, and in subsequent periods, the experts predict an increase in container volume of a few percent a year.
In such a crisis could be expected the global decrease in the number of transported TEU, as well as the amount of general cargo.
Contrary to the expectations, from one year to another, port traffic does not follow ‘the black statistics’, at least when it comes to Asian ports. Even 14 of 20 world ports with the highest cargo traffic, are in Asia. The honor of Europeans is saved only by Rotterdam, which occupies 7th place, while the best-positioned North American port, South Louisiana, runs at 13th place with almost three times smaller annual turnover comparing to top-ranked Shanghai. Almost there is no difference when we speak of TEU traffic – from 20 world ports with the highest container turnover, even 15 are in Asia. Although with solid numbers, Rotterdam at 11th place has almost three times less TEUs traffic from leading Shanghai. Following the trend of stagnation or downfall of freight traffic in North American ports, Los Angeles is only 18th with four times less TEUs traffic than Shanghai.
China, which is an absolute winner in all categories, is a case for itself. Even 10 of the 20 world’s largest ports with the biggest annual turnover of general cargo and TEU, is located in China. China is, as expected, convincingly the 1st in the world in the annual turnover of TEUs, which is as much as 4 times higher than the second-placed United States. For the industrially overcrowded country, which is supposedly in crisis, things are going pretty good.
A rapid global transition of power and capital recently caused quite a confusion even in the minds of the most qualified forecasters. Having all those things in mind, what could the near future of maritime be like? In a word: unpredictable.