In Q3 2019, the IMDO’s iShip Index Recorded a 5% decline in Overall Shipping Activity
In the nine months to September, overall tonnage through Irish ports is roughly 1.3m tonnes, or 3%, lower than at the same point in 2018. However, this decrease can be largely attributed to volume reductions in the Dry Bulk market. Coal, fertilizer and animal feed, all commodities within the dry bulk market, were among those to see the steepest declines in Q3.
Following consultation by the IMDO with Irish ports affected by these volume changes, it was found that a combination of inclement weather and heightened market uncertainty due to Brexit in 2018 contributed to a period of inventory stockpiling. This, rather than changing levels of demand, explains much of the overall tonnage decline this quarter.
Both markets within the unitised trade sector, which consists of the Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) and the Lift-on/Lift-off (LoLo) markets, maintained steady growth in Q3.
The RoRo iShip index grew by 1% to 1,361. Growth in the Irish RoRo market in 2019 has been driven predominantly by increasing Ireland - EU trade i.e. direct RoRo services to the continent from Dublin & Rosslare. This market segment has averaged 8.4% growth in 2019 so far, adding approximately 4,000 RoRo units each quarter.
The LoLo iShip index grew by 4% in Q3 2019. Since Q1 2014, LoLo shipping activity has averaged a quarterly growth rate of approximately 5.5%. As such, this quarter’s growth rate of 4% is consistent with a robust trend in this market.
The LoLo market exclusively represents container services on direct routes from Ireland to continental Europe. As such, the IMDO will continue to monitor this sector closely to understand whether operational changes arising from Brexit make direct services to the EU more commercially viable for Irish businesses, relative to the UK Landbridge route, when importing and exporting to and from the continent. Such operational and administrative changes may result in significant increases in demand for direct services leading to changes in Irish maritime trade patterns.
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.