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Disruptions in energy markets linked to a global growth recession have had a huge impact on the shipping industry. The container trade, which mostly caters to consumer demand as well as transporting machinery, is instituting what is known as “tactical cancelled sailings” in response to low demand. At the same time, the tanker trade is enjoying abnormally high contract rates.

Normally, at this time of the year, there’s a surge in the flow of goods from Asia’s manufacturing hubs to match festive season demand in Europe and America. Walmart and Home Depot usually charter entire ships and cargo planes.

This year, however, First World retailers are struggling to shift inventory. Shipping and logistics outfits are faced with few orders and low rates. Maritime research firm Drewry says that 117 sailings out of a scheduled 744 voyages in October on the Trans-Pacific, Trans-Atlantic, Asia-North Europe and Asia-Mediterranean routes have been cancelled. FedEx says it is cutting down cargo flights. Trade experts believe this weak trend will continue until at least the Chinese New Year (late January 2023).

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