Outlook for Sector Development

In view of this far gloomier economic outlook, the market research institute Drewry has halved its growth expectations for global container throughput compared to its July forecast and now anticipates growth of 2.2 % for the full year 2015. With the exception of the 2009 financial crisis, this is the lowest growth rate since global container throughput was first recorded. The strongest growth drivers in this weak market environment are expected to be the US Gulf Coast (+ 6.1 %), East Africa (+ 5.5 %), South Africa (+ 6.3 %) and the Middle East (+ 5.1 %) shipping regions. By contrast, Drewry has once again downgraded its latest volume forecast for China – the Port of Hamburg’s most important shipping region – by 1.2 percentage points and now expects growth of just 3.8 %. The market research institute has substantially revised its outlook for container volumes at the north-west European ports: after forecasting slight growth in July, Drewry has reduced its projection by 2.8 percentage points and now expects a decline of 0.6 % for the full year 2015. The institute also slashed its forecast for the Scandinavian/Baltic region by 7.3 percentage points and now expects this to contract by 19.8 %.

No new figures on the development of cargo transport have been released since the half-year report was published. Following a significant decline in transport volumes at the beginning of the year, sentiment indicators in early summer suggested an improvement in European rail freight traffic. The outlook for Western European traffic in 2015 has become increasingly optimistic. Sentiment indicators for Eastern European trades in June also showed an upward trend. Nevertheless, most experts still tended towards a negative trend in transport volumes. The expectations for intermodal traffic were somewhat more modest. Although volume projections for the Western European market were still below the prior-year level, they most recently indicated an upward trend. Sentiment regarding Eastern Europe is brightening and there is now a 50:50 split between positive (rising volumes) and negative (falling volumes) forecasts for the full year 2015.