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Buoyant Trans-Pacific to result in tight tonnage supply

Buoyant Trans-Pacific to result in tight tonnage supply

London: Only a few months ago, analysts were predicting that the huge volume of container ships on order was bound to take its toll on mainhaul box routes and freight rates, particularly out of Asia. The scale of the orderbook is certainly mind-boggling. According to Clarkson, there are 1,265 box ships due to be delivered over the next few years, equivalent to almost 44% of the existing fleet today.

The trans-Pacific, in particular, was a key concern, as the first wobbles in the US economy threatened to dampen cargo volumes with knock-on effects on Chinese exports. But once again, forecasters are confounded as cargo volumes continue to rise with eastbound traffic expected up by as much as 10-11% this year and more of the same in 2008.

Expanding trades within Asia are soaking up a considerable volume of container tonnage, according to market feedback, and mainhaul trades could remain in tight tonnage balance through to 2010. With most of the world's principal shipbuilders fully booked until that time, supply is as inelastic as ever. Barring a US recession, the container markets should stay buoyant, experts predict.  [15/03/07]