The explosion of international maritime transport costs penalizes export competitiveness

Par ediallo - 1 September, 2021 - 20:08

The persistent and unprecedented rise in the cost of maritime transport is likely to put a strain on world trade in goods. Especially those traded by container. Experts in the maritime field and consulting firms agree on this observation.

According to several sources, the cost of transporting a container from Shanghai (China) to Rotterdam (Netherlands) is currently 10,550 dollars (8,705 euros). A record, since it is 5.4 times higher than the average cost over the last 5 years.

Experts point to several factors as the reason for this: the strong increase in demand combined with the shortage of containers, congestion in ports and the reduced number of container ships and dockers.

All of this has been aggravated by the epidemic recovery in Asia, which has placed several major ports under sanitary restrictions, some of which are active in all the world's markets. Hence the knock-on effect on most port areas.

For Morocco, the impact of the increase in maritime transport costs resulting from the surge in container rental prices will be felt both for imports and exports.

In concrete terms, this will affect the competitiveness of exported products and make those purchased abroad more expensive. This includes all finished products with high added value transported by container.

For imports, these are household appliances, televisions, air conditioners, telecommunications equipment, capital goods, food products, beverages, school supplies, medicines ... For exports, the products most penalized are mainly the new trades of Morocco.

In terms of inflationary impact, professionals have already noted the surge that has taken hold of some products from Asia. The increase has been particularly on televisions and air conditioners. It is estimated between 20 and 35%.

A survey conducted by the Moroccan Observatory of Logistics Competitiveness among 54 operators of foreign trade shows that 80% of exporting companies said they have suffered an increase in rates for leasing containers.

The proportion is higher among importing companies: 89%. And for all, the increase would be around 50% or more.

But the companies that deal exclusively with Asia have suffered increases ranging between 150 and 200%. This, without forgetting the delays in delivery.

For the moment, containerized traffic remains relatively low compared to total foreign trade. It is about 1.240 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit).

According to the National Ports Agency, it was down slightly by 2.9% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In terms of volume, it represents 2.5% of global traffic with 12.1 million tons.

However, the stakes are high for Tangier Med. Last year, this port complex handled more than 5.7 million boxes, up sharply by more than 20% compared to 2019.

This port is also an industrial platform for more than a thousand companies representing an annual business volume of 8 billion euros in the automotive, aerospace, logistics, textile and trade sectors.

Abdelaziz Ghouibi