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Maersk: The overheated container market will cool in the first half of this year

Maersk, the world's largest container shipping company, expects the sizzling container market to cool in the first half of this year.



Vincent Clerc, chief operating officer of Maersk Line, predicted that the red-hot container market at record prices would cool in the first half of the year.But he declined to predict whether that would happen in the first quarter or the second.


"We don't know if it will be February, April or May, so we are prepared to stay where we are or to start the correction when the market returns to normal."Clerc said.


"We have to be prepared to act effectively, and if the situation cools down next week or three months from now, we have to be ready to go with that."He said.


In addition to record high rates, the container market is now facing a severe shortage, which is causing great frustration for shippers and freight forwarders.Clerc said this was due to strong demand in the third and fourth quarters of last year.


"That means there are not enough containers in the world to meet the demand that we are seeing," he said.


"It's not because the containers are piled up in the wrong places.All the ships that are ready to sail are now on board, all the containers that are ready to hold the cargo are on board and are in transit.The leasing company has no containers in stock and we have leased, produced and ordered containers."Clerc said.


He says it is surprising that things have not changed whether the economy is stagnant or open."So there will still be pressure in the coming weeks," Clerc said.Then we will see after the Chinese New Year when we expect to start getting some customer orders again."


Traditionally, container ships schedule more lay-offs ahead of the Lunar New Year, Clerc said, but that was not the case this year as the number of empty ships was low.


"Now it seems that demand is so high that we will have enough demand to load more goods during the two weeks that the Lunar New Year lasts.Secondly, we need ships to carry containers from the US and Europe back to Asia."He said.


In addition, a novel variant, Coronavirus, has recently spread in the UK, leading to a new blockade of large swaths of Europe, including Denmark, where Maersk is based.Maersk has yet to feel the impact of the new blockade, he said.