Although the southbound trade is expected to experience growth in 2017, container volumes from Asia to Southern Africa fell by 13% in the first quarter, Drewry’s Container Trade Statistics (CTS) show.
Drewry said that the latest numbers “are surprising,” as the trade was expected to start recovering from its low base of 2016 on the back of South Africa’s improving economic outlook and a strengthening currency.
“We are sceptical about CTS’ data as other sources suggest that trade between the two regions has been marginally stronger thus far in 2017, while the trend for rising spot rates also contradicts a declining trade story,” the shipping consultancy said.
Additionally, CTS’s figures include steep dives from North Asia (-37%) and Southeast Asia (-30%) that stand-out against a small increase from Greater China (+1.4%).
“The latest trade statistics look suspiciously low, and we retain our assessment that the southbound trade will show some minor growth in 2017,” Drewry said.