Global container trade posted a 2% year-on-year decline in 2020, shipping company Maersk reported.
While global container trade growth improved to around 5% in the fourth quarter of 2020, the sharp contraction in the second quarter resulted in negative growth for the entire year.
This result was considerably weaker than in 2019, when the indicator climbed 1.5%, at an annual rate.
The 2020 slowdown reflected the widespread crisis in all major economies, although the recovery in the second half of 2020 was faster than projections made during the spring.
Already the second wave of Covid-19 weighs in the first part of 2021, while the launch of an effective vaccine could have a positive impact in the second half of 2021.
Effective supply growth was contained during the year as the industry adjusted fleet capacity to deteriorating demand and market fundamentals were broadly in balance.
However, according to Maersk, a significant pickup in demand in the United States and partially in Europe, coupled with a major shortage of equipment, pushed up freight rates in the second half and freight rates increased 18% compared to 2019. .
The growth of European imports from Asia was strongly affected by the pandemic in the first half and decreased by 13%, first due to blockades in China and then blockages in Europe.
Then the recovery in the second half was not strong enough to offset the initial drop.
Also, North American container imports from Asia declined in the first half by 9.5%, but restocking and a significant increase in consumption of American goods driven by a housing boom and fiscal stimulus lifted growth from year-round imports to around 4% in 2020.
On the other hand, Europe (East-West backhaul) showed a moderate decline during most quarters in 2020, reflecting the decline in global activity.