Container shipping volumes are falling. Recession close?

Today there is a lot of evidence that the world economy is heading for a recession. The fall in container traffic is one of them.

The Russian container transportation market sank by 16% when compared to October 2022 with the previous October.

The total volume of traffic amounted to 470 thousand TEU.

The reasons are clear – unprecedented Western sanctions. Because of them, the volume of container imports in the Russian Federation fell by 6%, and exports — by as much as 30%.

The transit of containers through the territory of the Russian Federation also decreased by a significant amount: 30%.

In addition, many foreign carriers left Russia, and replacements for many of them have not yet been found.

However, this does not apply to the ports of Primorye: there, on the contrary, the volume of traffic has doubled.

In general, in the field of container transportation, the very “pivot to the East” is very noticeable: the volumes of shipments in the ports of the Baltic Sea have slumped, while in the Far East they have grown.

As for the replacement of carriers, in Primorye they also successfully coped with this.

On the one hand, if we compare the decline by 16% with the indicators of previous years, when there was an increase of 12% or more, then the situation is clearly negative.

On the other hand, the total volume of container traffic in the Russian market has even grown slightly compared to 2021.

Another thing is that its structure has changed a lot: a significant share fell on domestic transportation and imports, but the shares of exports and transit sank dramatically.

World freight rates fall


This is also one of the signs of a recession: freight prices are falling. Over the past 9 months, they have decreased by 60-70%.

True, a number of analysts are skeptical about seeing this as signs of a recession. After all, it is necessary to compare the results of 2022 with 2021, and everything is not so simple with it: after the pandemic, pent-up demand for almost all types of goods and services was powerfully realized, which dramatically shot up the indicators.

Naturally, 2022 has not shown such results, but can this be considered a fall?

Nevertheless, American ports are practically deserted on the eve of Christmas, there is no excitement that reigned there a year ago, when there were even traffic jams.

This confirms that Americans today do not have extra money, or they prefer to spend it not on gifts.

As for Russia, due to sanctions risks, ships entering the Russian Federation pay a double freight rate.

However, for the Russians, this also has advantages: many companies, for example, Chinese ones, are happy to serve our country in the first place, since it is more profitable than sending the same vessel to the United States.