Weekly Update – 4/14/23

‘Subpar’ trade growth in store for 2023: WTO

The pace of trade will likely remain sluggish in 2023 as volumes are weighed down by inflationary pressures and the war in Ukraine, according to the World Trade Organization.

Global trade volume in 2022 came in below estimates at 2.7% growth, well below 2021’s figure of 9.4%. Growth in trade fell from an average of 4.2% in the first three quarters of 2022 before falling to 2.4% in the fourth quarter, according to the WTO’s latest outlook report.

The value of merchandise traded, however, rose by 12% to $25.3 trillion, driven by higher commodity prices.


Search Continues for Hijacked Tanker Missing in Gulf of Guinea

Calls are going out for international assistance as the search continues for a missing product tanker believed hijacked on April 10 in the Gulf of Guinea. Searches of the region have so far been unsuccessful in locating the vessel which stopped transmitting an AIS signal on Monday in a position last reported 300 nautical miles south of Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire. At the same time, the International Maritime Organization is speaking out on what it sees as a troubling increase in piracy in the region after the success of reducing incidents since 2021.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore representing the vessel’s flag issued a statement confirming that it had received a report that the Success 9, a 4,374 dwt product tanker flagged and managed from Singapore, had been boarded by an unknown number of pirates.


Container lines still up vs. pre-COVID despite fall from peak

Early numbers on the first quarter are starting to trickle in from container shipping lines. They show a big step down from the fourth quarter, but they also confirm that earnings are still well above the pre-COVID “normal.”

Spot rates in the trans-Pacific eastbound market have collapsed, yet carriers continue to be shielded by annual contracts signed in 2022. Meanwhile, spot rates in the trans-Atlantic westbound market remain much higher than they were prior to the pandemic.

Average revenue per forty-foot equivalent unit — the big driver of container shipping net income — remains higher than it was before 2020.