COVID-19, trade war take toll on trans-Pacific volumes through April

COVID-19, trade war take toll on trans-Pacific volumes through April

Carriers’ rankings and market shares in the trans-Pacific trade in recent years have been relatively stable. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Total container volume carried by the top 15 lines in the US trade with Asia fell 7.2 percent through the first four months of the year, but a recent spike in imports from Asia and a cut in blank sailings this summer should stem declines going forward.

Still, with the ongoing US-China trade war and prospects for a strong holiday shopping season dimming due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), containerized imports from Asia are forecast to remain well below last year’s volumes as carriers prepare for the traditional peak shipping season in late summer and fall.

“Getting 40 million people back to work will take time, especially with many fearful of catching the virus and staying home. That makes a rapid return to an economic boom unlikely,” Ben Hackett, principal of Hackett Associates, which publishes the Global Port Tracker with the National Retail Federation, said in the group’s June report. Global Port Tracker has forecast year-over-year double-digit declines in imports each month through September and a 7.9 percent decline in October.

The top 15 trans-Pacific container lines account for more than 99 percent of two-way US–Asia trade. US imports carried by those lines in January-April declined 7.9 percent from the same four months last year, while exports fell 5.5 percent, according to PIERS, a sister company of JOC.com within IHS Markit.

Carriers’ individual market shares in the trans-Pacific trade in recent years have been relatively stable since the Hanjin Shipping Co. bankruptcy in August 2016 and the consolidation of carrier vessel-sharing alliances from four to three in 2017. HMM dissolved its partnership with the 2M Alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. in April and became a full member of THE Alliance of Ocean Network Express (ONE), Hapag-Lloyd, and Yang Ming Line.

A carrier executive noted that during periods of transition in the industry, such as when three Japanese lines merged their container operations to form ONE and when HMM joined THE Alliance three months ago, cargo volumes can be affected. HMM’s total laden import and export volume in January through April, for example, declined 15.4 percent. During the transition period, there were some gaps of one or two weeks in services between the 2M and THE Alliance rotations, said the executive, who asked not to be identified.

On the other hand, HMM is expected to bring additional volume to THE Alliance this year as it adds port calls and increased coverage of the Southeast Asia market, the source said.

Blank sailings a big factor

The number of blank sailings deployed by the alliances has also contributed to carriers’ performance this year. Carriers in the US-North American trades canceled more than 150 sailings from early February through April, according to Sea-Intelligence Maritime Consulting. However, the 2M and Ocean alliances have been more aggressive in blanking sailings than THE Alliance, and that has impacted the volumes carried by some individual lines, said Alan Murphy, Sea-Intelligence’s CEO.

However, carriers in recent weeks have reinstated a number of sailings they had formerly announced would be blanked. This indicates that volumes have picked up in recent weeks and bodes well for carriers in the short term.

Last week, 21 percent of the capacity from Asia to the West Coast had been due to be blanked, but that number fell to 17 percent after carriers reinstated some sailings. Announced blank sailings for this week now stand at 9 percent, down from the 16 percent reduction in capacity originally planned, according to Sea-Intelligence’s Sunday Spotlight newsletter.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bill.mongelluzzo@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @billmongelluzzo.

JOC top 15 container lines for US imports from Asia

US IMPORTS FROM ASIA, January-December 2019 vs. January-December 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 in laden TEU*

TThe JOC Top 15 container carriers in the US imports from Asia trade carried 99.9 percent of the 16.5 million TEU in US imports from Asia trade in January through December of 2019, a volume decreased of 2.6 percent year over year and surge of 25 percent above 2015. The JOC Top 5 carriers garnered 68.2 percent of the US import trade lane, or 11.3 million TEU in January through December volume fell 2.5 percent year over year, and spiked 20.1 percent above the same period in 2015.
 January - December
US Imports
 Percent Volume Change
in January - December 2019
 Ocean Carrier*World,
U.S. Headquarters
Market Share2019 From 2015From 2016From 2017From 2018
 
1Cosco Shipping/OOCLShanghai; Secaucus, N.J.16.9%2,796,519 17.6%17.7%2.8%-4.3%
2CMA CGM/APLMarseille; Norfolk, Va.15.3%2,537,229 23.6%19.8%9.3%-2.6%
3Ocean Network ExpressSingapore15.1%2,491,733 13.9%7.4%-4.1%-2.7%
4Evergreen LineTaipei; Jersey City, N.J.11.8%1,956,376 26.4%17.7%14.0%5.4%
5A.P. Moeller - Maersk*Copenhagen; Florham Park, N.J.9.1%1,503,464 22.0%6.1%0.9%-7.5%
 JOC Top 5 US Import Carriers' Market Share68.2%68.2%     
 JOC Top 5 US Import Carriers 11,285,321 20.1%14.1%4.0%-2.5%
6MSCGeneva; New York7.3%1,206,019 32.7%12.2%0.9%-9.0%
7HMMSeoul; Irving, Texas5.5%917,354 37.3%28.7%2.9%-0.5%
8Yang Ming LineKeelung; Newark, N.J.5.5%916,722 16.1%13.8%6.1%-0.8%
9Hapag-LloydHamburg; Piscataway, N.J.4.7%785,750 4.9%-4.9%-1.3%-2.1%
10Zim Integrated Shipping ServicesHaifa; Norfolk, Va.3.2%522,522 67.3%68.5%32.9%-1.6%
11SM LineSeoul1.9%307,974   63.9%6.2%
12Pacific International LinesSingapore, Long Beach, Ca.1.8%290,393 182.0%83.2%23.2%-6.0%
13Wan Hai LinesTaipei; Phoenix, Ariz.0.9%152,743 17.9%8.7%-0.3%-5.1%
14MatsonOakland0.6%106,272 4.6%9.4%-4.6%0.8%
15Westwood ShippingPuyallup, Wash.0.2%37,825 -5.2%8.1%0.8%0.7%
 TOTAL JOC TOP 15 US IMPORT FROM ASIA CARRIERS99.99%16,528,895 25.2%17.6%5.2%-2.6%
 TOTAL ALL US IMPORT FROM ASIA CARRIERS100.0%16,551,695 15.6%11.5%5.2%-2.6%
 MARKET SHARE OF ALL JOC TOP 15 US IMPORT FROM ASIA CARRIERS 99.9%     
 
*A.P. Moeller - Maersk includes Maersk Line, Sealand, and Hamburg Sud.
Source: IHS Markit

JOC top 15 container lines for US exports to Asia

US EXPORTS TO ASIA, January-April 2020 vs. January-April 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 in laden TEU*

The JOC Top 15 container carriers in US exports to Asia carried 99.99 percent of the 1.99 million TEU in US exports to Asia in January through April 2020, a volume decrease of 5.5 percent year over year but 7.6 percent above 2016. The JOC Top 5 carriers garnered 70.8 percent makret share of the US export trade lane, or 1.41 million TEU in the first four months of the year, up from 68.3 percent (1.44 million TEU) in the same 2019 period.
 January - April
US Exports
 Percent Volume Change
in January - April 2020
 Ocean Carrier*World,
U.S. Headquarters
Market Share2020 From 2016From 2017From 2018From 2019
 
1CMA CGM/APLMarseille; Norfolk, Va.Singapore; Scottsdale, Ariz.17.4%346,673 25.8%10.1%0.4%0.1%
2Ocean Network ExpressSingapore17.2%343,019 -8.0%-19.5%12.9%-4.1%
3Cosco Shipping/OOCLShanghai; Secaucus, N.J.; Hong Kong; Salt Lake City16.7%332,392 17.7%-1.5%1.3%5.6%
4Evergreen LineTaipei; Jersey City, N.J.10.2%203,953 11.8%-11.7%-14.6%-13.5%
5A.P. Moeller - Maersk*Copenhagen; Florham Park, N.J.9.4%186,847 -9.5%-11.5%-9.9%0.0%
 JOC Top 5 US Export Carriers' Market Share70.8%70.8%     
 JOC Top 5 US Export Carriers 1,412,884 7.0%-7.1%-0.7%-2.0%
6MSCGeneva; New York7.0%140,238 -10.8%-18.4%-24.2%-18.4%
7Yang Ming LineKeelung; Newark, N.J.6.5%129,952 17.6%-10.5%6.9%-8.2%
8HMMSeoul; Irving, Texas6.5%129,080 21.7%-14.0%-1.3%-15.1%
9Hapag-LloydHamburg; Piscataway, N.J.4.4%88,120 -17.6%-15.8%-5.0%-2.2%
10Zim Integrated Shipping ServicesHaifa; Norfolk, Va.2.1%42,353 20.1%23.4%-20.7%-2.1%
11SM LineSeoul1.6%31,411   11.9%-11.6%
12Wan Hai LinesTaipei; Phoenix, Ariz.0.3%6,950 117.7%-13.3%58.9%-59.7%
13Pacific International LinesSingapore, Long Beach, Ca.0.3%6,506 -12.4%-33.0%8.7%-28.0%
14Westwood ShippingPuyallup, Wash.0.2%4,854 -16.4%-23.4%-27.1%-17.7%
15MatsonOakland0.1%2,458 210.6%102.6%-7.7%-18.8%
 TOTAL JOC TOP 15 US EXPORT TO ASIA CARRIERS99.99%1,994,804 7.6%-7.3%-2.9%-5.5%
 TOTAL ALL US EXPORT TO ASIA CARRIERS100.0%1,994,886 -0.3%-7.5%-2.9%-5.5%
 MARKET SHARE OF ALL JOC TOP 15 US EXPORT TO ASIA CARRIERS 100.0%     
 
*A.P. Moeller - Maersk includes Maersk Line, Sealand, and Hamburg Sud.
Source: IHS Markit

JOC Top 15 US Ports for Imports from Asia

US IMPORTS FROM ASIA, January-April 2020 vs. January-April 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 in laden TEU*

The JOC Top 15 US ports in US imports from Asia accounted for 98.7 percent of the 4.56 million TEU in US imports from Asia in January through April 2020, a volume decrease of 8.2 percent year over year but 5.1 percent above 2016. The JOC Top 5 US ports garnered a 76.3 percent market share in the eastbound trans-Pacific trade lane, or 3.48 million TEU, in the first four months of the year, down from 77.5 percent (3.83 million TEU) in the same 2019 period.
 January - April
US Imports
 Percent Volume Change
in January - April 2020
 US Port Market Share2020 From 2016From 2017From 2018From 2019
 
1Los Angeles, Calif. 26.0%1,185,193 -4.7%-12.0%-11.1%-10.0%
2Long Beach, Calif. 21.0%959,518 -1.2%-2.4%-18.2%-7.6%
3New York and New Jersey 12.0%548,252 11.9%4.9%-0.7%-5.3%
4Savannah, Ga. 10.0%456,933 27.0%11.3%1.7%-8.5%
5Northwest Seaport Alliance, Wash. 7.2%327,062 -17.8%-20.4%-11.7%-18.1%
 JOC Top 5 US Import ports' Market Share76.3%76.3%     
 JOC Top 5 US Imports from Asia US Ports 3,476,959 0.4%-5.3%-10.3%-9.3%
6Oakland, Calif. 4.7%214,747 6.5%6.4%1.8%-3.8%
7Virginia 4.3%194,048 10.1%0.4%-4.3%-8.4%
8Houston, Texas 3.6%162,540 90.3%33.1%6.3%-2.1%
9Charleston, S.C. 3.4%157,000 43.8%9.2%7.2%-1.3%
10Baltimore, Md. 1.9%85,058 28.0%21.0%6.9%0.8%
11New Orleans, La. 1.2%54,633 173.8%96.7%114.5%5.1%
12Miami, Fla. 1.1%50,504 -15.2%-18.2%-22.3%-20.0%
13Jacksonville, Fla. 1.1%50,242 1.0%-5.6%-14.4%-17.6%
14Boston, Mass. 0.7%30,390 24.3%16.9%0.2%-7.6%
15Wilmington, N.C. 0.5%24,573 -7.8%493.9%25.7%41.9%
 TOTAL JOC TOP 15 US PORTS BY IMPORTS FROM ASIA 98.7%4,500,693 5.1%-1.7%-7.6%-8.2%
 TOTAL US IMPORTS FROM ASIA100.0%4,558,548 5.6%-1.2%-7.2%-7.8%
 MARKET SHARE OF JOC TOP 15 US PORTS BY IMPORTS FROM ASIA 98.7%     
 
Source: IHS Markit

JOC Top 15 US Ports for Exports to Asia

US EXPORTS TO ASIA, January-April 2020 vs. January-April 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 in laden TEU*

The JOC Top 15 US ports in US exports to Asia accounted for 98.1 percent of the 1.99 million TEU in US exports to Asia in January through April 2020, a volume decrease of 5.8 percent year over year and essentially flat from 2016. The JOC Top 5 US ports garnered 68.9 percent market share of the westbound trans-Pacific trade lane, or 1.37 million TEU, in the first four months of the year, down from 70.6 percent (1.49 million TEU) in the same 2019 period.
 January - April
US Exports
 Percent Volume Change
in January - April 2020
 US Port Market Share2020 From 2016From 2017From 2018From 2019
 
1Los Angeles, Calif. 20.6%411,816 -9.5%-20.6%-8.8%-15.1%
2Long Beach, Calif. 16.4%326,950 -4.7%3.4%-7.9%-0.7%
3Northwest Seaport Alliance, Wash. 11.4%227,601 -12.6%-10.0%-4.3%-12.3%
4Oakland, Calif. 10.3%206,399 7.4%6.4%10.3%1.0%
5Savannah, Ga. 10.1%201,682 5.6%-5.5%-2.1%-5.3%
 JOC Top 5 US Export US ports' Market Share68.9%68.9%     
 JOC Top 5 US Export US ports 1,374,448 -4.7%-8.1%-4.4%-7.8%
6New York and New Jersey 7.0%139,875 -15.8%-15.3%-4.8%-3.9%
7Virginia, Va. 6.7%132,833 7.4%-13.9%-14.0%-5.8%
8Charleston, S.C. 5.3%105,843 44.8%6.3%6.8%3.7%
9Houston, Texas 4.1%81,400 108.7%31.0%53.9%6.9%
10Baltimore, Md. 1.5%30,288 7.1%-7.5%21.8%20.0%
11New Orleans, La.  1.5%30,048 41.0%2.0%-2.7%15.3%
12Wilmington, N.C. 1.0%20,656 -9.8%19.3%-24.9%-9.3%
13New Orleans, La.  0.9%17,501 139.1%32.1%82.5%3.8%
14Jacksonville, Fla. 0.6%12,756 -17.6%-40.1%-33.6%-24.1%
15Boston, Mass. 0.6%12,235 -34.4%-34.4%-7.7%-14.8%
 TOTAL JOC TOP 15 US PORTS BY EXPORTS TO ASIA 98.15%1,957,883 0.03%-7.2%-2.9%-5.8%
 TOTAL US EXPORTS TO ASIA100.0%1,994,886 -0.3%-7.5%-2.9%-5.5%
 MARKET SHARE OF ALL JOC TOP 15 US PORTS BY EXPORTS TO ASIA 98.1%     
 
Source: IHS Markit