Dar es Salaam. South Asia container trade with Europe continues to outpace the Middle East, says Drewry in its Container Insight Weekly report.
Container shipments in the combined eastbound Europe to the Middle East and South Asia trade performed well in the first quarter, rising by 5.2 per cent year-on-year according to Container Trade Statistics.
However, that aggregate rate hides two very different performances by the two destinations. CTS reports that inbound traffic to South Asia soared by 18 per cent in 1Q18 to reach approximately 410,000 TEUs, whereas Middle East imports declined by 2 per cent to land at about 590,000 TEUs.
The same divergent story continued into April as Europe to Middle East traffic was down by 1.6 per cent, versus a 22.3 per cent jump for South Asia imports.
There was a much more balanced picture for the westbound trade as exports from the Middle East and South Asia to Europe were much more closely aligned than they were in the opposite direction.
Middle East exports rose by 10 per cent in the first quarter to nearly 225,000 TEUs while outbound shipments from South Asia increased by 8.2 per cent to about 525,000 TEUs.
After four months of 2018 the momentum is strongest for trade in both directions to/from South Asia as well as with westbound exports from the Middle East.
On a rolling 12-month average basis, growth from Europe to South Asia topped 10 per cent after April and 8 per cent in the opposite direction. The outbound trade from the Middle East clicked up to 6.4 per cent, but inbound trade is still languishing at nearly -2 per cent. Capacity adjustments in this corridor have largely come from the addition of larger ships to existing services.
Drewry notes only one new service start-up in recent months, the ME6 service (three ships of between 2,500-4,300 TEUs) from Maersk Line, which connects the Spanish hub Algeciras with the Red Sea ports of Aqaba and Jeddah before calling at Port Said on the return leg.