2018: Déjà Vu All Over Again

2018: Déjà Vu All Over Again


By Carly Fields

The cautious optimism from the start of 2017 that it would be the year that marked a turnaround in the breakbulk and project cargo trades has given way to a more reserved, and frankly more resigned, outlook for 2018.

Too many variables – from the slow recovery of the global economy to the frustratingly strong staying power of competing sectors – have left carriers, forwarders and shippers scratching their heads about what the future holds.

In our annual outlook feature, industry specialists weave positives with a healthy dose of negatives. Yet, tellingly, there are few common threads to pull on, and where one observer sees a silver lining, another sees a black hole.

Read the outlook opinions of these industry figures:

Christophe Grammare, Managing Director, AAL

David Collett, Managing Director, Collett Group; President, European Association for Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes

Annelisa Hussey, Associate; Matteo Bianciotto, Associate Director; Ed Osterwald, Senior Partner, CEG Finance & Strategy

Dirk Visser, Senior Shipping Consultant, Dynamar B.V.

Margaret Vaughan, Manager – Transportation & Logistics / Export Compliance, Wood Group

Thomas Gimbel, Director Global Chartering, Hansa Heavy Lift

Rebecca Keller, Senior Science and Technology Analyst, Stratfor

Michael Juhler, Head of Special Cargo, Maersk Line

Rafael de los Santos, Managing Director, Tradelossa

Ulrich Ulrichs, CEO, Rickmers-Line

Dennis Devlin, Senior Director/Head of Business Development – North America; Global Projects / Oil and Gas, Schenker Inc.

There is agreement, however, that this year will deal out another batch of challenges for the sector: expect President Trump to up the ante on his Chinese trade rhetoric, oil prices to remain subdued, labor availability issues to worsen, and margins to narrow even more.

Technology still offers a lifeline to improve processes, streamline operations, and maximize profits, if that ship hasn’t already sailed.

But, overall, there is no escaping it: uncertainty is now the name of the breakbulk and project cargo game. Cautious optimism was so last year.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock



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