Drewry: Southern Africa Imports from Asia on Recovery Path

Image Courtesy: Maersk Line

Ailing South Africa imports from Asia could see a small recovery in 2017, as improving demand and capacity management helps to lift southbound spot rates to a 26-month peak, according to shipping consultancy Drewry. 

Containerized imports from Asia to Southern Africa slumped by 7.8% in 2016 to their lowest volume since 2012. Figures from the Container Trade Statistics (CTS) show that 2016’s annual sum of 731,000 TEU was the weakest annual return in four years and was about 9% off the peak of 807,000 TEU recorded in 2013, Drewry said.

The trade has experienced five straight quarters with year-on-year (YOY) declines although the rate of erosion did slow up in the final three months of 2016, when container imports dropped by 2.4% YOY, versus declines of 7% in the first quarter, 9% in the second and 12% in the third. With weaker comparisons to look forward to in 2017, the trade should find it easier to register growth once more, the shipping consultancy predicted.

There are other, non-statistical, grounds for optimism. The improved economy in South Africa and the strengthened rand are expected to encourage further imports into the region.

There are currently 10 weekly services connecting Asia with Southern Africa, although three of those do not serve the southbound market, the shipping consultancy said.

Carriers have started adding Southern Africa wayport calls to services linking Asia with West Africa. Such a move last year by French shipping company CMA CGM and Danish carrier Maersk on their joint Asia-West Africa FEW6 loop introduced ships as large as 9,200 TEU to Cape Town.

“We expect this trend will persist as carriers prefer to turn services into multi-trade operations rather than starting dedicated loops because of increased vessel sizes, cascading pressure and the desire to attain greater economies of scale,” Drewry pointed out.

On a monthly basis, carriers in the trade have worked to prevent additional southbound slots with the average for 2016 marginally below that of 2015. There were eight missed voyages across the seven southbound services in February, which meant that the available slots were only 2.5% higher than in the same month last year.

March 2017 schedules indicate that capacity will not be altered much from February, but because March 2016 saw a significant injection of slots the annual comparison this month will be an estimated -8%, the consultancy explained.

A combination of improving demand through the second half of 2016 and generally reduced capacity has helped southbound ship utilization rise from a low of 63% in February 2016 to nearly 90% in October. While load-factors have since dropped off to the mid-70% range, the better market conditions have allowed carriers to raise spot rates.

Representative Shanghai to Durban spot rates as published by Drewry’s Container Freight Rate Insight have gone from a series-low (started end-2009) of USD 840/40ft in June 2016 to reach a 26-month high of USD 2,250/40ft in January 2017.

To ensure the current momentum in spot rates, carriers are advised to resist adding too much capacity.

Share this article

Follow World Maritime News

In Depth>


<< Nov 2017 >>
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 1 2 3

Maritime Information Warfare 2017

Maritime Information Warfare will focus on the growing need for navies to develop their information exploitation capabilities…

read more >


The Summit will gather key marine experts and companies around the globe which have a big influence in the industry…

read more >

The CWC 18th Annual World LNG Summit & Awards Evening

The CWC World LNG Summit will continue to give you access to premium networking opportunities as it brings together the who’s who…

read more >

Marintec China 2017

The largest maritime event in Asia Pacific, Marintec China connects maritime professionals from the entire shipbuilding supply chain together.

Over the years, Marintec China has grown to reflect the size and importance of the Asian maritime market. 2015 event is another record-breaking edition with the largest exhibition area and the highest number of industry professionals attending ever. The encouraging figures proven that China remains one of the major shipbuilding nations and Marintec China has been the most authoritative platform in Asia.

With the maritime industry facing great opportunities but also many challenges, it is important for the industry to connect and engage more to ultimately win new business in globally-significant markets. A visit to Marintec China is a great way to learn about the latest technology and innovation of the supply industry, a platform for industry professional to meet face to face, make connection and do business.

Marintec China is poised to be the definitive event and is undoubtedly a must-attend for all involved in the maritime industry.

Marintec China will be held from 5 to 8 December 2017 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre in Shanghai, China and continue its dedication to serve as the “LEADING” platform “CONNECTING” the community and “STRENGTHENING” the maritime industry.

Marintec China offers the perfect opportunity for companies serving the maritime market to showcase their innovations, products and services to a wide audience. A platform for face to face meetings in business, creating new relationships and consolidating existing ones.

More info

read more >