In Q1 2020, the IMDO’s iShip Index Recorded a 6% decline in Overall Shipping Activity
In Q1 2020, the IMDO’s iShip1 index recorded a 6% decline in overall shipping activity. Tonnage declines in the Dry Bulk and RoRo markets drove this decrease, contributing 65% and 30% to the fall respectively. Across all market segments, the Bulk market makes up 55% of Irish tonnage, the RoRo market 30% and LoLo market 15%.
When combined, the RoRo and LoLo sectors make up the unitized trade market. This market largely represents finished goods further along the supply chain than the raw materials traded in the bulk markets. In the three months to March, the total Irish RoRo traffic fell by 5% while LoLo traffic declined by 3%. In order to provide added context and insight to these changes, there were three main contributing factors which should be noted.
Firstly, Q1 2019 experienced significant growth in both sectors. RoRo traffic expanded by 9% while the LoLo traffic grew by 7%, both outpacing its quarterly average of 5% between Q1 2015 – Q4 2018. Driving the growth in Q1 2019 was a period of inventory stockpiling that took place in as the UK’s proposed date of departure from the EU approached on March 29th. Secondly, a period of inclement weather in February 2020 led to some cancelled sailings, reducing freight carryings during that time. Lastly, restraints on economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact upon the RoRo and LoLo market in the latter half of March 2020. Business closures across retail, construction and hospitality sectors will have begun to impact the both markets from this period onwards. The onset of COVID-19 in March stalled the recovery from lost sailings due to inclement weather in February.
As highlighted above, the Dry Bulk market drove almost two thirds of the overall Irish tonnage decline in Q1, reflecting the large volumes traded in this market. A drop in agricultural and construction commodities such as fertilizer, animal feed and bauxite contributed to much of the Dry Bulk decline. Large variability due to seasonal factors and weather patterns are common in these markets.
Also some impact trading was felt in Q1, the restrictions placed on economic activity in Ireland and across the world as a result of the COVID-19 virus will become apparent in Q2 2020 for the Irish shipping markets. It is certain now that there will be considerable tonnage decline across all market sectors. The IMDO continues to monitor these markets closely as well as their indications for the wider Irish economy.
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The Quarterly Reports act as a summary of Irish shipping activity over the past quarter. They are typically released a little over a month after a quarter finishes. Once the data is collected and our indices are updated, the percentage change between the current year and the previous year is calculated, and these trends are drafted and analysed.
There are five different categories that we include in our statistical analysis:
- Lift On/Lift Off (Lo/Lo)
- Roll On/Roll Off (Ro/Ro)
- Liquid Bulk
- Dry Bulk
- Break Bulk
Typically, the Lo/Lo figures exclude unladen tonnage and the liquid bulk figures are broken down into two categories; figures that include transhipments and figures that exclude transhipments. These figures are used to inform the shipping, maritime and ports industries and also to assist the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in decision making on government policy. The figures are also used in the Irish Maritime Development Office's annual publication, the Irish Maritime Transport Economist.
iShip Index: The iShip index is a volume index for all freight traffic moved to and from the Republic of Ireland. This does not include passengers and transhipment activity. More information on the iShip index can be accessed here. For more information visit the three main cargo sub-sections of the IMDO website.