The global container ship orderbook has continued to creep up since midyear, despite a weakening market sentiment. While container lines are still highly profitable, freight rates and charter rates are now on a downward trajectory, indicating the market has peaked.
Both freight and vessel time charter rates are still high historically, but the general feeling is that the market is about to correct itself and normalize some time in 2023. Across many trade lanes, cargo volumes are weakening, and spot rates are coming down swiftly.
Liner shipping’s traditional peak season barely materialised in 2022 and many industry observers feel that the slump is structural, rather than seasonal, with fears of a global recession.
War risk, skyrocketing energy costs, political instability and inflation will impact overall consumer spending and thus trade volumes for manufactured goods. Easing of COVID restrictions caused consumption patterns to shift back toward services at the expense of shopping.