According to MANA, The latest figures published by Container Trades Statistics show that box numbers carried on the trade fell 9.2% to 932,557 teu from 1m teu in the corresponding month of 2016.
With the Chinese New Year falling in late January the typical slowdown of cargo being moved out of the country’s colossal container ports came slightly earlier this year, impacting trade throughout much of February.
Last year the Chinese holiday season, which effectively sees production lines halted for two weeks as factories shut up shop, fell in mid-February meaning the traditional weakening of trade came later.
As such it will not be until the figures for the full first quarter come to light before the fortunes of the trade so far in 2017 can be better analysed.
Nevertheless, following a surge in box traffic in January in the run up to the Chinese festivities, when volumes grew 5.3% over last year, year-to-date figures are largely unmoved for the first two months of 2017.
While volumes remained relatively unchanged, freight rates have improved markedly this year on 2016, suggesting carriers have better addressed the supply/demand imbalance.
The CTS Asia-Europe price index, working on a 2008 base rate average of 100, fell to 58 points in February from 62 points the previous month, but was still up 31.8% on the 44 points recorded in February 2016.