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Norton Rose Fulbright 'deteriorating sharply' survey backs Moore Stephens report

Norton Rose Fulbright 'deteriorating sharply' survey backs Moore Stephens report
Following a depressing Moore Stephens survey last week, legal practice Norton Rose Fulbright has found that shipping sentiment is deteriorating, despite positive responses from rail and aviation.

The law firm reported that shipping confidence had “deteriorated sharply”, with 77% of shipping respondents rating the current market conditions as poor, and 64% of those citing overcapacity as the chief issue, growing from 40% in 2014.

Overcapacity was followed by global economic uncertainty, voted as the most pressing concern by 27% of shipping respondents. 15%, meanwhile cited a lack of suitably qualified people.

Only a third of shipping respondents were positive, down from 69% in 2014, and similarly only a third expected additional funds to be allocated to investment rather than operating costs over the next five years. Meanwhile 88% of aviation respondents and 91% of rail respondents described their markets as positive.

Asked which regulations have had the greatest impact on shipping, 49% cited increased environmental regulation, while 25% highlighted uncertainty over application and enforcement of new and existing regulations. Shipping respondents demonstrated far greater concern over new and extended economic sanctions (14%) than aviation (13%) or rail (0%).

“While the outlook for aviation and rail is increasingly encouraging, many sub-sectors of the shipping industry continue to suffer real pain, primarily as a result of a surplus in supply,” said global head of Transport at Norton Rose Fulbright Harry Theochari. “Longer term, the anticipated growth in demand, rising fares and freights, and increased innovation and infrastructure investment is expected to create new opportunities for the transport sector.” 

“China in particular will be a key market for transport over the next two to five years. Over the course of this year China may well become the world’s top exporter and importer, is increasingly focused on rail through its 'One Belt, One Road' strategy, and longer term there is the view that it will overtake the US as the world’s largest aviation market. China provides real opportunities for businesses operating throughout the transport sector.”

“Despite the new opportunities emerging, transport also faces a number of very real challenges. The regulatory burden on the transport sector has been increasing and our respondents are clear that the sector would benefit from greater transparency over regulation, as well as increased investment in infrastructure. The threat of an emerging market slowdown is a key concern for aviation and shipping as they increasingly look to Asia for growth.”