As the southbound leg in the topsy-turvy Europe-East Coast South America (ECSA) trade regained supremacy in the first quarter of 2017, any increases in spot rates is expected to occur here, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.
First-quarter 2017 container shipments in the trade between Europe and East Coast South America continued the strong growth in the southbound traffic following a long period of decline, with the opposite being true for the northbound leg.
Southbound container volumes increased by 9% year-on-year in the first quarter, following on from a 14% uplift in the fourth quarter of 2016. Drewry said that, prior to that, the trade had not seen growth since the start of 2014.
However, northbound shipments to Europe closed last year 2.1% up, bringing volumes back up to where they stood in 2012, but the slowdown in trade witnessed in the fourth quarter of 2016 continued in the first quarter this year as box volumes decreased by 7%.
The latest numbers show that southbound shipments marginally overtook those on the northbound leg in the first three months of 2017, by 189,000 TEU to 187,000 TEU. The northbound leg had held the upper-hand since the third quarter of 2015, Drewry said, adding that the growth is now “exclusive to the southbound market.”
March figures pushed the southbound moving average up to 1.8%, its highest mark since June 2014. In contrast, the northbound rolling average sunk to -2.8%, the worst reading since April 2015. The gap between the two legs is expected to continue to widen as the year progresses, Drewry informed.