Despite ongoing geopolitical uncertainty, confidence in the shipping industry has risen in the last three months, according to the latest shipping confidence survey from shipping adviser and accountant BDO.
The latest report from BDO (formerly Moore Stephens) reported an average confidence level of 6.2 out of 10. An increase of 0.2 points compared to the 6 out of 10 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Confidence was up in Europe, from 6.1 to 6.3, and in North America, from 5.2 to 5.6, said BDO. In Asia, there was a drop in overall confidence levels from the 12-month high of 6.3 in the previous quarter to 5.8.
The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was down from 5.5 to 5.3. Meanwhile, the number of respondents who expected finance costs to increase over the coming year was down from 67 percent to 48 percent, the lowest figure since August 2016.
Demand trends were cited by 26 percent of respondents as the factor most likely to influence performance over the next 12 months. Competition (19 percent) and finance costs (13 percent) featured in second and third place respectively in this context.
Richard Greiner, partner, shipping and transport at BDO, said: “It is encouraging to begin the year with a small uptick in confidence. Despite continuing doubts and fears about trade wars, China’s GDP, uncertainty over exchange rates, President Trump’s decision making, Brexit and general political instability in many parts of the world, shipping can still find reasons to be cheerful.
“Net freight rate sentiment remains positive in all three main tonnage categories, and there is a growing recognition that shipping is emerging from an extremely difficult period as a leaner and greener industry.”
He added that there appears to be a general recognition that the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Sulphur 2020 and ballast water management (BWM) regulations will help rid the industry of poorly maintained tonnage.
Greiner continued: “This will also appeal to potential investors looking to back environmentally compliant and technologically savvy industries. It seems that the shipping industry must prioritise achieving the benefits of regulatory compliance and technological innovation over the coming years.”
In February, BDO completed the partial merger with Moore Stephens, as HLPFI reported here. The deal related only to the London, Birmingham, Reading, Bristol and Watford offices of Moore Stephens. The remaining UK offices and its international locations will continue to operate as Moore Stephens.