BIMCO: COVID Wiped 24.6M TEUs Off Container Market Growth

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  • IMF forecast that the global economy would grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% during 2020-2023, in line with the average annual rate of growth of 3.4% seen during the years leading up to the pandemic. Instead, the global economy ended with an average annual growth rate of only 2.6%.
  • The container market grew at an average annual rate of 0.4% during the 2020-2023 period, equal to a GDP multiplier of just 0.14. Between 2013 and 2019 the GDP multiplier averaged 1.06.

During the past four years, the container market has faced not only lower than expected growth, but has also trailed global economic growth because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global container market grew only 1.5% from 171.0 million TEUs in 2019 to 173.5 million TEUs in 2023. Without the pandemic, that figure would have been 24.6 million higher, landing at 198.1 million in 2023,” Niels Rasmussen, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, said in an April 17 announcement.

Pandemic wiped 24.6M teu off container market growth

In October 2019, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that the global economy would grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% during 2020-2023, in line with the average annual rate of growth of 3.4% seen during the years leading up to the pandemic. Instead, the global economy ended with an average annual growth rate of only 2.6%.

During the same period, the container market grew at an average annual rate of 0.4%, equal to a GDP multiplier of just 0.14, Rasmussen said. The GDP multiplier effect refers to how an increase in spending ultimately leads to a far bigger change in GDP than the amount spent. Between 2013 and 2019 the GDP multiplier averaged 1.06. Had this been maintained during 2020-2023, the container market would have grown at an average annual rate of 2.7% and the 2023 container market would have ended 16.8 million TEUs higher, Rasmussen claimed.

Market size excl. COVID effects

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Source: BIMCO