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Less Containership Activity in US Waters Indicates Trade Slowdown

In the most recent alarming evidence of slowing global trade, the number of container ships in US coastal waters has dropped to less than half of the count from a year ago.

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According to vessel statistics examined by trade watchers, there were 106 container ships both in port and off the coast as of late Sunday, down from 218 at the same time last year—a 51% decrease.

According to IHS Markit data, the number of port visits each week in US waters through March 4 fell to 1,105 from 1,906 the year before. Since the middle of September 2020, that is the lowest level.

Perhaps the weather is somewhat to blame. More generally, fewer ships are required to transport goods from Asia’s main manufacturing hubs to the US and Europe due to a slowdown in global consumer demand, which is being driven by slower economic development and increased inflation.

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As of late Sunday, there were only three ships in the port of New York/New Jersey, which is currently bracing for an oncoming winter storm, as opposed to a two-year median of 10. At the West Coast maritime center of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which typically has a median of 25 ships, there were 15 ships.

According to maritime consultancy Drewry, idled container vessel capacity in February was almost at its highest level since August 2020.



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