Global Hike in Shipping Container Price Suggests Growth in International Trade
As we head into the second quarter or 2017, the average global price of steel shipping containers has risen to its highest level since October 2015, representing an encouraging increase in international trade.
This welcome news follows several years of lacklustre growth in the Conex box market, since the world economy stagnated in 2008. Intermodal shipping containers carry approximately 90% of manufactured goods, so growth in their sales is a positive sign.
Chinese Shipping Container Exports Improving
The Chinese market is often a good barometer for trends in global trade and (according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange) a recent growth spurt in the US economy, following Donald Trump’s election, has brought real signs of a recovery, particularly along the important China-USA trade route. China now manufactures a remarkable 97% of the world’s steel shipping containers. The country has vast labor reserves, ensuring costs remain low. A huge proportion of the world’s consumer goods are also manufactured in China, so it makes logistical sense to build shipping containers in the same region.
Average export volumes from East Asian countries, including Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, are also showing a 5% increase, compared to the same period in 2016, according to various sources.
Shipping Container Manufacturers Explore Non-traditional Markets
Although the majority of Conex boxes are destined to ply the oceans, distributing goods to container terminals around the world, manufacturers experiencing sharp downturns have found valuable new revenue streams in the form of shipping container architecture i.e. the repurposing of boxes for use as homes, retail units, cafes, bars and offices. Customers are attracted by low start-up costs and the temporary nature of the units. The latter often means that local planning permission isn’t required. There’s even a new tourist information office in New York’s Times Square that consists of a bright pink shipping container!
In late 2016, Holiday Inn announced a ground-breaking new project in the city of Manchester, England, in the shape of an amazing 220-bedroom hotel. It’s a radical, modular design which involves the stacking of several floors of shipping containers, weighing in at around 20-tons apiece. All these boxes were reportedly sourced in China. Similar hotel schemes are popping up all over the US, including a 46-room example in Detroit built from recycled Conex boxes and named ‘Collision Works’.
Hip markets, comprised entirely of shipping container units, like those supplied by Port Containers USA, are springing up in many US cities. The boxes can be customized to owners’ specific needs, ensuring designs remain original and attractive to customers. Containers can be clad in plastics or timber, to disguise their DNA, or the steel walls removed and replaced with glass. This makes them ideal as cool cafes and hipster bars. Many people appreciate the industrial chic of a rugged, utilitarian Conex box built from rust-retardant, Corten steel, which ages beautifully over a period of years, developing a rich patina. Innovative schemes like these are music to the ears of shipping container manufacturers looking to sustain demand through hard times.
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