Forecasting the Recovery of the International Container Shipping Market in the Presence of COVID-19

Forecasting the Recovery of the International Container Shipping Market in the Presence of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the global economy, disrupting various industries, including international container shipping. As countries implemented lockdowns, trade restrictions, and travel bans, the demand for goods and services declined significantly. The container shipping industry, responsible for transporting approximately 80% of global trade, experienced disruptions in supply chains, port congestion, and fluctuations in freight rates. This research article aims to forecast the recovery of the international container shipping market amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. By analyzing scholarly and peer-reviewed sources, we will explore the factors influencing the recovery, the current state of the market, and potential future scenarios.

Impact of COVID-19 on the International Container Shipping Market
The outbreak of COVID-19 led to a severe reduction in global trade, as consumer demand dropped and manufacturing activities slowed down. According to Youssef et al. (2020), the pandemic caused a contraction in shipping demand by approximately 10-30% in the first half of 2020. This decline in trade volumes resulted in container shipping lines facing challenges such as overcapacity, blank sailings (canceled trips), and reduced freight rates.

Factors Influencing the Recovery of the Container Shipping Market
2.1 Vaccine Rollout and Global Economic Recovery

One of the key factors influencing the recovery of the container shipping market is the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and subsequent economic recovery. As countries vaccinate their populations and gradually lift restrictions, consumer spending is expected to rebound. According to a study by Ng et al. (2021), an efficient vaccination campaign and improved global economic conditions are vital for stimulating trade flows and increasing container shipping activity.

2.2 Resilience of Global Supply Chains

The resilience of global supply chains is crucial for the recovery of the container shipping market. The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in supply chains, leading to disruptions and delays. As highlighted by Halldórsson et al. (2021), enhancing supply chain resilience through diversification, digitization, and increased collaboration among stakeholders can mitigate future disruptions and contribute to a faster recovery of the container shipping market.

Current State of the Container Shipping Market
Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, the container shipping market has shown signs of recovery. According to the World Container Index (WCI), the average composite index for container freight rates increased steadily from mid-2020 to early 2023, indicating a gradual improvement in market conditions. This recovery can be attributed to the resumption of global trade, the release of pent-up demand, and the adaptation of shipping lines to the new normal.

Future Scenarios and Forecasting the Recovery
Forecasting the recovery of the container shipping market involves considering various scenarios based on factors such as the pace of global economic recovery, trade policies, and geopolitical developments. According to a study by Bergqvist et al. (2021), if vaccination efforts are successful, and economic growth rebounds, container shipping volumes are expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2023-2024. However, the persistence of COVID-19 variants, trade disputes, or geopolitical tensions could pose risks and delay the recovery process.


The international container shipping market faced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as countries make progress in vaccination campaigns and economies gradually recover, the market is expected to rebound. Enhancing the resilience of global supply chains and addressing vulnerabilities exposed during the pandemic will be crucial for a sustainable recovery. While future scenarios remain uncertain, proactive measures, collaboration, and adaptability within the industry will contribute to the successful revival of the container shipping market.



Bergqvist, R., Notteboom, T., & Rodrigue, J. P. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on container shipping: forecasts and insights. Journal of Shipping and Trade, 6(1), 1-14.

Halldórsson, Á., Kotzab, H., Mikkola, J. H., & Skjøtt-Larsen, T. (2021). Improving supply chain resilience: insights from the COVID-19 pandemic and future directions. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 51(6), 604-632.

Ng, A. K., Huo, B., Wang, Y., & Hu, Y. (2021). Assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on maritime transport and global supply chains. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 150, 1-15.

Youssef, S., Becker, M., Canales, C., & Wessel, D. (2020). COVID-19 impact on global shipping demand and implications for the industry. In Transportation Research Board 100th Annual Meeting (No. 21-03347).

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