Tim Smith, Maersk Line’s North Asia CEO, reflects on 2012 being quite a volatile year, but sees an increase in the Asia-Europe container trade.
The biggest challenge for the entire industry is overcapacity, said Smith. “In these volatile markets we have seen a lot more capacity coming into the market the last couple of years than is needed by the lower levels of demand.
Last year that overcapacity was managed tolerably well by taking out ships, scrapping them, slowing ships down or idling them for shorter or longer periods. “We managed to balance supply and demand,” said Smith, “and that is the game we need to play again in 2013.
2012 was “a bit of a roller-coaster for us and for our customers,” said Smith. “What we would like to do is to get into a more sustainable basis in 2013.”
“We should never be too confident in these challenging times, but it’s certainly looking more optimistic than it has been for a little while.”