Container shipping rebounds in Q3: UN report

The number of ships pulling into ports to unload and load containers rebounded in many parts of the world in the third quarter of 2020, showing early but uneven signs of recovery, said a new report.

This offers a hopeful sign for world merchandise trade, which suffered a historic year-on-year fall of 27% in the second quarter, said the UNCTAD report.

Maritime shipping saw a dramatic slowdown earlier this year as government measures used to curb the Covid-19 pandemic restricted economic activities and travel. By mid-June, the average number of container vessels arriving weekly at ports worldwide had sunk to 8,722, an 8.5% year-on-year drop.

But new data show that, globally, the average weekly calls have started to recover, rising to 9,265 by early August, just 3% below the levels of one year earlier.

“Most of the manufactured goods that we produce and consume are shipped in containers,” said Shamika N Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s technology and logistics division. “The latest containership port call patterns therefore offer a ray of hope for economic recovery from the pandemic.”

The UNCTAD article explores how data on the movement of vessels – which carry over 80% of the goods traded globally – can help policymakers navigate the troubled waters of a crisis while they wait for official statistics on trade and gross domestic product.

“Even in the absence of official trade statistics, maritime transport provides reliable near real-time data that can help policymakers make better decisions in managing the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis,” Sirimanne said.

Tracking a pandemic with port calls

The UNCTAD article shows that, globally, container ship arrivals started to fall below 2019 levels around mid-March 2020 and then to recover gradually around the third week of June.

The start of the decline coincided with the World Health Organization’s decision on 11 March to classify Covid-19 as a pandemic, while the gradual recovery reflects the timeline when some countries began easing out of lockdown.

The UNCTAD article says that although most regions have seen some recovery in the third quarter of 2020, both in absolute numbers and compared to 2019 levels, the global figures hide important regional differences. – TradeArabia News Service




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