BIMCO: Trade war leading to headwinds for the fragile dry bulk recovery
The first twelve weeks of the 2018/19 marketing year, which started on 1 September 2018, have painted a dire picture for US soya bean exports which are 43% lower than in the same period last season. Down from 21 million tonnes of accumulated exports by 23 November 2017 to 11.9 million tonnes by 22 November 2018. A loss of 122 Panamax (75,000 tonnes) or 183 Supramax (50,000 tonnes) loads.
“Tonne mile demand is further hurt as not only are the volumes of US soya bean exports lower than last year, the distances sailed are also much shorter as the new destinations are closer to the US than China is.” Peter Sand, BIMCO’s Chief Shipping Analyst, says.
The loss of 122 Panamax loads (all destinations) may be downplaying the impact the change in US soya bean exporting patterns is having on the dry bulk shipping industry. By 23 November 2017, 71.3% of all soya bean exports were sent to China, equal to 200 Panamax loads on one of the longest trades in the world. So far this marketing year, China has taken just 2.8% of US soya bean exports, further harming the tonne mile demand generated by US soya bean exports.
“The weaknesses in Panamax and Supramax earnings in recent weeks is likely to be linked to the lower demand for seaborne transportation of US soya bean exports as compared to previous seasons”
In particular Panamax and Supramax vessels are affected given their reliance on the high volumes of US soya beans usually being sent to China at this time of year. The drop in this demand has been one of the factors behind the lack of seasonal upswing in earnings which has been seen in previous fourth quarters. Panamax earnings fell from 14,385 USD/day on 17 October 2018, to 10,996 USD/day on 23 November 2018.
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