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Demand drivers and freight rates The first four months of 2021 have been record-breaking in volume terms, with demand reaching 1.69 billion tonnes – the highest-ever start to a year. Volumes are up 6.1% compared with the same period in 2020, and only slightly down from the 1.72 billion tonnes in the final four months of 2020.
The Chinese ban on coal imports from Australia has shaken up coal trades in the east.
In the first two months of 2021, Brazilian iron ore exports have risen by 9.1% to 53.0m tonnes, driven by China.
After an unusually strong start to the year, seasonality has caught up with the dry bulk market. Coupled with a slow recovery in global economic activity, it looks set to be another challenging year.
The turbulence of the past year has in many ways clouded the underlying fundamentals in the dry bulk shipping market, but with 2020 now behind us, we are in a better position to establish an overview of expectations for 2021.
October has been the best performing month of 2020 in terms of US exports of the goods outlined in the ‘Phase One’ trade agreement between the US and China. Export values of these goods totalled USD 10.3 billion, breaking the previous high of USD 7.8b in September.
There has been much talk in recent weeks and months about Chinese coal policy, particularly with regard to imports from Australia, after anecdotal evidence suggest Chinese importers have been told to shun Australian thermal coal.
The second half of the year has provided some cheer for the dry bulk market, with all ships in the spot market averaging earnings above the break-even point, though not high enough to make up for losses made during the first part of the year.