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Transpacific trade set for annual drop in container volumes

The Transpacific container shipping trade is forecast to contract on an annual basis this year for the first time in a decade, according to analyst Alphaliner.

In its weekly newsletter Alphaliner said that the eastbound Transpacific trade was expected to record a 2% drop in annual volumes for in 2019, the first time the trade has contracted annually since 2009 at the height of the global economic crisis.

The trade had remained in marginally positive growth territory in the first three quarters of the year despite the ongoing trade ware between China and the US. However, unlike Q4 in 2018 when there was a surge in volumes driven by fears of a trade war and higher tariffs in 2019, this is not being repeated in the fourth quarter of this year.

In the first 10 months of 2019 the eastbound Transpacific trade has grown just 0.02% to 13.15m teu.

“Latest transpacific liftings data for the month of October showed a -3.9% drop, with even larger declines expected in November and December as the exceptional record volumes, recorded in the last two months of 2018, are not expected see a repeat this year,” Alphaliner said.

Underscoring the likelihood of an overall annual fall in volumes in October the US West Coast ports of  Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland recorded a combined 12% fall in volumes.