The pandemic has been hard on almost all sectors, where many global economies were headed towards a close recession. It was only after when lockdown restrictions eased worldwide that the economic situation began to improve.
One of the sectors that suffered a deadly blow was the shipping industry. Consumer demands dried worldwide and ports were the first to feel the crunch. With declining tonnage throughout 2020, compared to 2019 levels, the only ports that benefited were transshipment hubs like Panama, where ships had to stop over when the US declared a complete lockdown.
Ever since consumer demands began picking up to pre-pandemic levels before Christmas last year, the port sector has seen significant changes. Now, American ports, being backed by considerable investments are eying for the future. New container terminals are being built with private-sector partners, showing the way for construction companies worldwide.
“Ninety percent of everything” was how Rose George titled her 2013 book on the shipping industry. That is how important the world’s merchant fleet is to global trade. Yet when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, politicians the world over were seemingly unaware of the significance of cargo-ship crews’ work. Unlike cross-border lorry drivers, airline pilots, and cabin crew, seafarers were not designated as key workers – with tragic consequences for the sailors and their families in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and India.
Stranded at sea
The travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world have made crew changes and repatriation of seafarers massively difficult. The result has been a humanitarian crisis of unheard-of proportions – and one made worse by a widespread lack of interest in the seafarers’ plight. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) estimates that around 400,000 seafarers were stranded on their ships in December 2020 – unable to make their way home and many months past the end of their original contracts. A similar number of seafarers were stuck at home, prevented from joining their ships and earning much-needed money to support their families in countries without welfare networks.
At the beginning of 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over two Million lives and continues to spread throughout the world. While the health crisis grew, the virus also infected economies and supply chains. Official statistics in developed countries such as Germany capture well the impact of lockdown measures on retail sales or disruption in global trade on national imports.
These official statistics, however, tend to be published with a time lag of several months and even longer for developing countries in the global South. To provide policymakers with more recent information on economic activity, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) published the Corona Data Monitor in 2020 using unconventional, but high-frequent data. For instance, economist Vincent Stamer contributes to the data monitor by analyzing daily API data from FleetMon. Comparing historic ship activity in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to today’s activity measures the impact of the Corona crisis on the key East Asia – Europe trade route. For more information, please visit the Corona Crisis Data Monitor on the website of the IfW Kiel.
In a recent study sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office, a project team of the Kiel Institute replicated the concept of the Data Monitor and applied it to various data sources on developing countries. To measure the impact of the pandemic on countries in the global South, the authors used data on nitrogen gas emissions, light emissions, and flight arrivals, as well as AIS data on container ships provided by FleetMon.
Cruise ships became the first hot-spots of the deadly Coronavirus, with luxury yachts and mega cruises turning into large quarantine centers. FleetMon reported on the developments since the beginning of the pandemic. Governments all around the world resorted to imposing a strict ‘No Cruise’ ban.
With COVID-19 impacting all sectors of the economy, the cruise industry has been particularly brought to its knees.
With the figures we’re going to show you now, it becomes apparent that the sheer scale of this global shutdown is unlike something the industry has ever witnessed, easily dwarfing global events like 9/11 or stock market crashes.
Hardly any other industry has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the coronavirus spread in the winter months – traditionally a most popular time for sun-seeking senior citizens from the Northern Hemisphere – cruise ship passengers were infected in their thousands. Ships were refused entry in port after port and cruises abruptly cancelled to offload passengers fast. All upcoming cruises were cancelled and since March, the cruise industry has been in 100% lockdown. This blog looks at the situation in July 2020 and what the future might hold.
The initiative belongs to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Goodwill Maritime Ambassador for Bulgaria Capt. Andriyan Evtimov.
The purpose is to have the document signed online by at least 150,000 people – the same number of seafarers blocked by theCOVID-19 and then send it to the IMO member-state governments with an appeal for immediate and urgent measures to facilitate the movement of seafaring personnel.
Are you spending more time at home than you would like to? Make the best out of it. We felt like returning something to our users. Therefore we dropped the daily time limits for Open Users. Open Users (free accounts) can use the FleetMon Explorer beyond 15 minutes per day. Feel free to track your favourite vessels all day every day until 1 June – no costs involved.
Read about how the COVID19 pandemic induced the biggest oil price crash in history. And what is the impact on maritime shipping?
Economists are already referring to the global slump brought about by the coronavirus as the world’s worst-ever economic downturn – a “Greater Depression” that’s even worse than the Great Depression in 1929-32. With lockdowns, closed frontiers and stay-home restrictions reducing road, rail and air traffic to an absolute minimum and economic activity having slowed down to an almost standstill the world over, the global demand for oil has fallen through the floor. On April 20 the price of the May futures contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) plunged to never-experienced negative territory of minus $40. In other words, US oil producers actually had to pay people to buy or store their oil. Since that historic low, the price of WTI and Brent crude has recovered somewhat but still remains at levels not seen for decades. It’s a simple equation, basic supply-and-demand economics. With supply significantly outpacing demand in the global oil market, the price of “black gold” has slumped.