Home » Ports/Terminals » Drewry: Box shortage to drag on

The critical shortage of containers in 2010 will ease slightly but steep prices and a tight ratio of containers to vessel slots will still hamper the supply of boxes in the near future, says a new report from Drewry Maritime Research.

The London-based research firm predicts that availability of containers will be tight during the forthcoming peak season, but not as acute and as widespread as in 2010.

According to Drewry’s “Container Census – Annual Survey and Forecast of Global Container Units,” the global fleet of containers exceeded $90 billion in replacement value for the first time at the end of 2010, also reflecting the increased unit prices of containers.

It said the shortage would continue because the dominant Chinese container manufacturing industry was restricted to operating at half its maximum twin-shift potential throughout 2010, largely because of problems over restarting factory lines and rehiring labor after more than a year of idleness.

“If capacity is more tightly controlled by the container manufacturing sector than in the past, it will likely result in higher new container prices,” Drewry said. “Material/production costs are also forecast to rise over the longer term, thereby providing a further inflationary stimulus.”

It added: “It remains to be seen if continued high container prices will deter new investment, particularly from cash-strapped shipping lines who have found it harder to secure financing in recent years.”

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