Andrzej Grzelakowski



The world economic and financial crisis that seriously hit the global economy and especially its trade and transport sectors in the years 2008-2009 also affected with significant force the global maritime container transport. This strategic maritime transport subsector is regarded as a driving force of smooth development of the global logistics supply chains and the backbone accelerating globalization processes. However, since 2010 effective demand and potential supply on the global container freight market are in constant state of disequilibrium, caused to a large extend by wrong tonnage investment strategies of container operators. Lack of ability to adapt the supply side to changes occurring on the demand side of the container market has brought numerous serious financial and economic consequences which not only affected the global container shipping operators but also hit other parties involved in the logistics supply chains spread within the global logistics space created in the contemporary global economy.

Purpose: The main objective of this paper is to evaluate the dynamics of global maritime container market, especially its demand side which fluctuates vigorously, and assess the short and medium term strategies applied by the powerful shipping operators in terms of their multi-channel impact on the other parties of the global intermodal supply chain and the global logistics system as a whole.

Methodology: The traditional method of maritime freight analysis was applied based on container freight and charter indices, such as SCFI or HFI. They reflect the amplitude of freight rate per TEU fluctuations in a certain period of time (e.g. quarter, week, etc.) which is congruent with the effective demand changes confronted with the existing potential supply. Growth of tonnage capacity, determined by the global container shipping operators’ strategies aimed for further development and better utilization of the existing transport potential of container fleet acting on the very competitive global freight market, has been assessed in terms of logistics efficiency and its effects have been estimated within the global value chain.

Findings: The obtained results indicate that: 1/ global maritime container transport market is still significantly unbalanced and subject to high dynamics of demand fluctuations, and consequently freight rates, 2/ applied strategies of maritime global container operators in the operational and investment area fail to bring intended results, leading to strong capital horizontal integration in the sector of maritime container transport and vertical integration within the global logistic supply chains, 3/ the situation destabilizes the operations of global supply chains and consequently the global TSL sector, preventing forwarders and shippers from taking rational decisions on a medium and short term basis, 4/ this relatively long-standing situation (from 2010) shakes the foundations of transport and logistics order worldwide, 5/ the beneficiary of this situation on the market of maritime container transport and strategic decisions of global container operators is global economy as well as consumers of goods imported by sea in containers.

Originality/value: The approach proposed by the author regarding the analysis of the effectiveness of freight market operations in the context of developed and implemented operational and investment strategies of maritime container operators with an attempt to assess the effects of such decisions within global logistic supply chains has not been the subject of research until now. The obtained initial results which require further detailed analysis, provide significant values, both theoretical (enrich the market theory) and practical (as regards taking rational decisions and effective management of global supply chain).


global container shipping; container shipping operators; container freight market; container operators’ strategies; global logistics supply chain

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