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According to BIMCO,  container volumes being moved around the world have grown by an average GDP-to-trade multiplier of just 1.1 since 2010; this is expected to continue in coming years. With IMF expecting GDP growth of 3.4% in 2016, this translates into container demand of 3.5-4%. The “new normal” level of demand is somewhat lower than originally expected – just as global GDP growth keeps disappointing us. From 2000-2008, the GDP-to-trade multiplier stood at 2.2, delivering container demand growth at 8-9% from a GDP base of 4% on average.
Freight rates across the board saw lower levels more or less all year, with trading into the US East Coast in the first four months of 2015 being the exception. The China Containerized Freight composite Index (CCFI), which covers ten major ports in China and includes long-term contractual rates in addition to spot freight rates, declined 19% in 2015, on average, from the year before. Trades into Europe declined 29% on average, while rates for ships bound for the US West Coast lost 8% on average from the previous year.
In the spot market, the depressing development and the accompanying volatility in 2015 were, even more, apparent (see graph below). Spot rates on the Shanghai to Europe trade lost 47% on average from 2014-2015. As the deployed capacity in this trade is leading the industry up and down, growth in volumes needs to return. As this trade went into reverse in 2015, the redeployment of non-competitive ships into other trades hampered freight rates there as well. 
BIMCO graph--Shanghai-to-Europe
There is no way to hide it, nor any reason to. The fundamental imbalance of the containers shipping market worsened in 2015. While the demand side delivered only a sluggish growth level, the supply side jumped by an astonishing 8.1%. We are not making it easy for ourselves.
No wonder the system of cascading broke down, as all trades were already awash with ships ready to be filled up with cargo but still sailing underutilised. 2015 saw the injection of 208 brand new ships with a combined transport capacity of 1.67 million TEU. The highest supply side capacity expansion ever, including 46 ultra-large containerships (more than 13,870 TEU), 66 feeders (up to 3,000 TEU) and 99 other ships with an average size of 8,160 TEU.
Mercifully, 2016 is expected to bring around only 850,000 TEU of new capacity. Yet, it will be a year where all fleet growth will happen in the size-segments larger than 8,000 TEU, just as it has been the case every year since 2012. The only solace is that the work done by owners and investors managed to postpone the original agreed delivery dates. Over the past year, BIMCO estimates that the postponement rate of orderbook has gone up from 15% to 30% with most of the work done in the first half of 2015.
Please click here to read full BIMCO analysis on container shipping

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