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March 2023

Japan’s dry bulk imports fall 4% amid weak steel demand

Having narrowly avoided a recession in the fourth quarter of 2022, the Japanese economy appears to be recovering. However, Japan’s demand for steel remains weak and as a result, the country’s bulk imports are estimated to have fallen by 4% y/y in the first quarter of 2023.

China’s refinery output up 3.3% y/y as exports grow 74%

Reaching 116.1 million tonnes, Chinese refineries’ output hit a new high for the first two months of the year. Increases in exports and domestic transportation demand, following higher export quotas and the lifting of COVID restrictions, are driving growth.

Share of ships with scrubbers seen rising despite 24% fall in fittings in 2022

Scrubbers were installed on 399 ships in 2022, a fall of 24% y/y, and currently 13% of bulker, container, and tanker ships have a scrubber installed. Despite the slowing rate of installations, the share of ships with a scrubber is set to increase in coming years as 17% of ships in the shipyards’ order books are expected to have a scrubber installed.

Record soybean harvest predicted despite Brazilian export decline of 31%

Brazil’s soybean harvest is behind schedule due to heavy rain with exports down 31% y/y in the first two months of 2023. But despite the slow start, Brazil is headed for a record harvest and a sharp increase in exports during the coming month.

February 2023

Ukraine’s dry bulk exports have plunged 77.8% during one year of war

On Friday 24 February, one year will have passed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During that year, dry bulk exports from Ukraine have dropped 77.8% compared to the same period a year earlier, causing a decline in global dry bulk volumes. Seaborne exports have been restricted to agricultural goods and even those have been limited.

Chinese shipyards hit record 47% market share in 2022

In 2022, Chinese shipyards reached a market share of 47% and for the first time exceeded the combined market share of Japanese and South Korean shipyards.

Record 112m tonnes Indian wheat harvest not seen benefitting global supplies

India is heading for its highest wheat harvest on record of 112 million tonnes this spring. However, exports will likely be limited in the coming year as the country is still recovering from last year’s poor harvest and is expected to focus on rebuilding its own wheat inventories.

Does the 1.1% m/m decline in US retail sales spell more trouble for container volumes?

Despite falling 1.1% m/m in both November and December, US retail sales volumes remain 13% above 2019 levels and 6% higher than the pre-COVID trend. However, sales volumes could return to trend during 2023 and thereby pose a risk for Asia to North America container volumes.

January 2023

Baltic Dry Index slides as iron ore shipments kick off 2023 with 13.1% drop

Despite hopes that a quick economic recovery in China would boost iron ore demand, 2023 has so far been a disappointment for the dry bulk shipping sector. During the first three weeks of the year, iron ore shipments fell 13.1% y/y, the lowest volume since at least 2019, worsening conditions for capesizes. In this period, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) declined by almost 500 points to 763 on 20 January, its lowest point since June 2020.

Jet fuel volumes down 27% on 2019, Chinese re-opening to offer relief

The airline industry has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and seaborne jet fuel cargo volumes suffered along with it. In comparison to pre-pandemic levels, available seat kilometres dropped nearly 90% in early 2020.