OUTLOOK 2016: A tipping point

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By Will Waters

Falling confidence in recent weeks expressed across international stock markets, particularly in banking stocks, seems to be as much about central banks’ experiments with negative interest rates as it does about concerns on the real economy, for example China’s slowing progress. Some economists have suggested that the effects of slowing Chinese growth on the world’s economy have also been overestimated, stressing that because China remains principally a supplier economy to the world rather than a consumer, the impact on world trade of a slowdown in China remains much less significant than a potential slowdown in the US.

Of course, trade with China remains enormously important for the international freight transport sector, although the continuing directional imbalance in China’s freight markets underlines the fact that it is the state of the main consumer market economies, Europe and the US, that are the principal factor and concern for those involved in the dominant east-West trades.

That said, analysis by Drewry of the various major global container shipping trades in 2015 show that the global container trade imbalance widened in 2015 for ‘East-West’ trades, but narrowed for ‘North-South’ lanes, as a result, apparently, of Asian importers increasingly seeking to broaden their sourcing origins to regions such as the Middle East and South Asia.

Interestingly, while air freight continues to beat itself up about its low growth rates, Drewry’s latest Container Forecaster report indicates that 2015 saw the second-slowest year of growth for loaded container traffic this century on the main bilateral trades it measures, behind 2009, growing just 1.4% in 2015. Other analysis puts global container traffic growth at less than 1% in 2015, while global air freight grew between 2% and 3%.

Economists and analysts will continue to argue about the various factors contributing to the size and distribution of global economic growth this year, and the same may also be true of those involved in the international freight transport and logistics sector. Some of this is reflected in the following accounts of the expectations of various people within international freight transport for 2016. This year, CAAS also invited commentary on a number of different aspects of the business, particularly encouraging input on topics such as new developments, innovation, and technology, including the potential impact from potential disruptive players in the market. I hope you find some of the following contributions to be valuable, interesting, and thought provoking – as I have.

To read all the forecasts and expectations from various stakeholders in the air logistics chain, CLICK HERE for the digital edition