Container traffic from Asia to Australasia suffered its first quarterly slump in at least five years, falling by 11 per cent in the second quarter of this year, according to the shipping consultancy Drewry, of London.
The slowdown affected both the North Asia and South-east Asia export markets. After six months, trade from North Asia to Australasia was down by 3.5 per cent to 773,000 teu, while the fall from South-east Asia was even steeper, down by 7.5 per cent to 345,000 teu.
“Combined, the total southbound trade experienced close to a 5 per cent slump in the first half of 2017” said the Drewry report.
“Although the deterioration in container traffic along this corridor started early this year, things became much worse with woeful returns for May and June accelerating the trend line downwards towards zero.
“Unless there is a drastic reversal, at the current rate the southbound trade will register an annual decline for the first time in at least five years.” The pick-up in Asia to Australia spot rates in August offered hope of a wider recovery but this year looks certain to end with lower volumes.
Despite the weakness in demand, carriers have resisted making sweeping changes in capacity.