Many are unaware of this, but 90% of the products we consume transit by sea. All the variations, downwards as well as upwards, are therefore not without consequences for our portfolio. An example, in 2020, sending 20 kilos of goods from Bangkok to Paris cost 100 euros against… 1200 euros today.
According to the Freightos Baltic index, the benchmark for the average price of a 20-foot (33 cubic meter) container on the main shipping routes has increased fivefold in one year: 9,000 euros for a trip from China to the west coast of the United States. United. The trip to Europe exceeds 13,000 euros, against barely 1,200 euros in 2019. As shipowners are almost short of ships, certain ports are saturated and demand clearly exceeds supply, the trend bullish does not seem to have to stop.
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However, during the pandemic, maritime transport did not fare too badly. Admittedly, hundreds of thousands of sailors found themselves stranded at sea, due to border closures or lack of planes to return home during crew changes. Despite the paralysis of many ports, bulk transport, in particular cereals, coal and iron ore, increased by 1.3%.
If the surge persists, the price of imports could increase by 11% by 2023
The Covid-19 crisis has not affected the essential role of Asia either, which accounts for 41% of port loadings in the world, and even two thirds if only containers are taken into account. But the pandemic has deeply disrupted the sector. “Goods were accumulating on one side of the globe, without means of transporting them, while a traffic jam of empty boats was created on the other side of the planet. This destabilized the supply chain. This translates into a shortage of containers, summarizes Paul Tourret, director of the Higher Institute of Maritime Economics in Nantes.
Because maritime transport weighs heavily in world GDP: 130 to 150 billion euros in profits in 2021 for a business volume of 700 billion euros! According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), this shock will have an impact on growth. If the current surge persists, the price levels of world imports could increase by 11% by 2023. Cnuced forecasts a 10.2% increase in consumer prices for certain items (furniture, clothing, etc.).
For their part, shipowners are flying from record to record. The sector leader, the Danish AP Moller-Maersk, which handles approximately one in five containers in the world, has just announced canonical sales (65 billion euros) and a profit of 15 billion euros in 2021. Multiplied by six! We are awaiting the results of Marseille’s CMA-CGM, whose turnover exceeded 12 billion euros for the period from July to September, against 8.1 billion a year earlier. Its net income, around 5 billion euros, had increased tenfold over the period. As a result, shipowners are starting to order container ships, these monsters 400 meters long and 60 wide. The CGA-CGM, which already has 500 ships, has ordered around twenty from Chinese and Korean shipyards, in particular, all fueled by gas.
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