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2019 will be a transition year, says iContainers

Online freight forwarder iContainers says a year of uncertainty awaits the shipping industry, with many issues surrounding IMO 2020, Brexit, and the US-China trade war far from being resolved.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}According to the Barcelona-based digital forwarder, the shipping industry will continue to face the same incertitudes in 2019 as those that dominated the shipping industry in the latter half of 2018.

The IMO 2020 0.5 per cent sulphur cap is less than 11 months away from implementation.

Klaus Lysdal, vice president of operations, iContainers expects 2019 to be “a transition year as carriers and the shipping industry as a whole prepare for the IMO 2020 regulations.”

“Usually, we see a number of different approaches from one carrier to another when there are major regulatory changes happening. But so far it looks like the same pattern as everyone tries to put their plans into action.”

The online freight forwarder also expects automation efforts to continue to advance. But most progress will likely be made on a smaller scale.

“We will undoubtedly see more automation throughout the industry this year. But by and large, it will be in small pieces of the chain here and there. It's more a matter of what individual companies can automate in their processes than anything overall that's going to majorly change the industry, at least in 2019,” says Mr Lysdal.

“But there is more automation coming. Whether it's with the terminals, carriers, warehouses, truckers or forwarders, it is happening.”

Developments around the US-China trade war and Brexit remain uncertain and will likely lead to significant repercussions on the ocean freight industry over the coming months or even years, says iContainers.

“Expect the shipping industry to keep close tabs on the trade war. So much of how the global trade movement will unfold depends on developments there, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens,” Mr Lysdal continues.

“These are, after all, the two biggest trade partners in the world with a huge potential to impact the global shipping capacity. Many US companies struggled with the first round of tariffs but hopefully, we will see some mitigation that can allow them to recover.”

iContainers believes the uncertainty around Brexit is causing a growing sense of disquietude amongst shippers and ocean freight providers dealing with the outgoing EU member.

“Brexit will be another one to watch as we are really going into unchartered waters here. New regulations will need to be drafted and time will be needed for them to be implemented. This will take some getting used to and there’s no saying how seamless the transition will be, if at all,” adds Mr Lysdal.{/mprestriction}

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