Med slump hits Asia-Europe box trade


This year’s lack of a peak season is evident in a 7.7% year-on-year drop in container volumes from Asia to the western Mediterranean and North Africa destinations, new figures from Container Trades Statistics (CTS) show.

Although this is less severe a decline than has been seen in recent months on that trade, the figure still represents a 16.2% fall for Q3 this year, to 599,340teu, compared with the corresponding 2011 figure of 715,198teu.

CTS data, compiled from container lines’ own liftings, shows overall Asia-Europe box volumes fell 1.7% to 1.1 million teu in September, although this represents a slowdown from the 10.8% year-on-year decline recorded in August and from July’s unprecedented 13.2% slide in westbound volumes.

Despite growth of just 0.07% on the Asia-Northern Europe route, year on year for September, the trade lane’s volumes for the third quarter, at 2.2 million teu, were 5.2% lower than those for Q3 2011.

“While this data is not as bad as last year, it does not alter the fact that we are not seeing a peak season this year,” said Container Trade Statistics MD Rod Riseborough.

“We are not seeing traditional trade patterns.”

Asia-Europe trade is one of the biggest in the global economy and a barometer of the world’s overall economic health. The figures for September reflect this year’s trend towards a drop in European imports of Asian goods, in this case led by weak demand in the Mediterranean.

“Although there’s some growth in Asia-Northern Europe, it is really the western Mediterranean that is causing the problem,” Riseborough said.