President and chief executive
The continued movement of trade toward Asia, and particularly China, is a trend that can only strengthen in the year to come. We believe world trade will continue to grow in 2006, driven by the Chinese and U.S. economies. Even if not as impressive as this growth on the Pacific, the North Atlantic trade should show excellent growth. In other words, we expect increased carrying and handling capacity for Europe and the Mediterranean in 2006.
Mergers between major shipping lines may represent a major change for certain ports. This may be seen as a result of globalization; more specifically, shippers' demand for more far-reaching services and better coverage. More than ever, ports must be able to provide cost-effective, reliable services to shipping lines.
The emergence of mega-shipping lines naturally leads to market concentration, with a smaller number of lines serving a larger part of the market. This is expected to continue. There has been a weakening of the conference system over the last few years, and mergers may intensify this trend.