Around 10% of the container shipping fleet remains laid-up and idle as a result of the recent global financial crisis and economic slow down plus over-capacity caused by new ships being built.Yet sentiment could be turning in this space, due to expectations of a sustained global rebound for world trade. One sign is that the Westbound Transpacific stabilisation Agreement, which is an organisation of ship owners that collectively bargains freight rates, is planning to try and push through rate hikes for U.S.-Asia routes in April.
Hellenic Shipping News: Effective April 1, 2010, WTSA carriers say they intend to raise dry cargo rates by US$300 per 40-foot container (FEU) and $240 per 20-foot container (TEU). Lines have additionally proposed that refrigerated cargo rates increase on April 1 by US$300 per FEU and $240 per TEU for U.S. West Coast cargo, and by $500 per FEU and $400 per TEU for all other cargo, including minilandbridge, inland intermodal and all-water shipments from the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts.
Moreover, in a recent note Charles de Trenck of the transport research firm Transport Trackers believes ship owners are preparing to bring laid-up ships back on the market due to increased optimism that shipping demand is coming back, even in the face of what remains a rather high orderbook of new vessels being built.
Charles de Trenck @ Transport Trackers: Alphaliner and others have noted vessels coming out of lay‐up, with the 10% of fleet in lay‐up mark breached. Our anecdotal sweep shows a mini‐flood of vessels coming out of lay‐up, with one broker suggesting most could be out of lay‐up in short order. This will pair‐up with new service and loop start‐ups. The risk is too much too soon, of course.
Thus, ship owners and managers with a ground-level view of global trade, plus massive skin in the the game of physically shipping goods (bringing a ship out of lay-up is a risky proposition), are starting to regain confidence in the current global rebound. That says a lot more than any pundit or analyst could since when ship owners get it wrong they get murdered (figuratively, usually).
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