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2017: A Container Market Review

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Author(s): Matthew Gore, Partner, HFW

From the lows (and carrier losses) of 2016, freight rates improved sufficiently during the course of 2017 for the majority of carriers to return to profitable positions. However, despite quiet optimism in the industry at the start of 2017 that sustained trade volume growth and could drive a revival in freight rates, the recovery of the container market continues to be threatened by the potential imbalance between underlying supply and demand.

Carriers' attempts to counter such overcapacity have primarily taken the form of further co-operation or integration, whether through merger and acquisition (M&A) activity or new alliances. In this article we review the market trends of 2017 and analyse the outlook heading into 2018.

2017 marked a quick return to profitability for carriers, following the significant losses suffered by many the previous year. By the end of the third quarter of 2017, all of the major carriers recorded positive operating results (with the exception of HMM), with…

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