THE LEX COLUMN: Trade war causing ripples for shipping industry
Since May, the MSCI World marine transport sector index has trailed all world markets by seven percentage points
Portfolio managers worry — about markets, performance and apparently about global trade. The customs point punchup is the key concern in the final weeks of the year, according to Bank of America. This week’s fragile rapprochement between US President Donald Trump and his counterpart in China, Xi Jinping, soothed some of this jitteriness. Initially, equity markets rebounded sharply. Shipping executives, too, could use some good news given the threat to trade flows. They have enough on their plate trying to prepare for potentially higher fuel costs. Very dirty bunker oil will need to be replaced by costlier, less sulphurous fuel over the coming year to reduce pollution from ships. A push to cut carbon emissions is another factor. Container shipper Maersk of Denmark hopes to lead the fleet, making ships carbon-free by 2030. Although Maersk warned in November about the damage a trade war could do, so far the effect upon container shipping seems modest. Tonnage miles on the Pacific route...