Trade Lane Deep Dive: Asia-Europe
Carriers on the Asia-Europe trade are sailing into a year when the economic and geopolitical challenges are deepening, with growing uncertainty on both the supply and demand side of the container shipping business. Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine has resulted in huge hikes in energy prices, creating runaway inflation across Europe that has left consumers struggling with a cost-of-living crisis expected to extend through 2023. This already has dampened demand for containerized transport through an anemic 2022 peak season —North Europe imports from China fell 10 percent in the July-September seasonal peak — and there are no expectations of the traditional surge in volume ahead of Chinese New Year on Jan. 22. Carriers are trying to match capacity with falling demand by blanking sailings in an aggressive program in which they withdrew 1.6 million TEU in the last four months of 2022, and some analysts warn that a rate war is possible. As economic and geopolitical headwinds strengthen, this session will dive into the Asia-Europe supply-demand fundamentals to examine the host of factors stacking up to undermine the stability of the trade lane, including capacity flooding back into the market, tanking demand, and rising COVID-19 infections in China ensuring no change in Beijing’s lockdown approach to the pandemic.