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Trade News

Each day TFO Canada publishes a sample of trade news on the Canadian import market along with any new, updated or changed regulations and legislations regarding international trade; countries in which TFO Canada offers services and on the export sectors which it promotes.


East African Trade

Friday, November 01, 2013 > 13:14:08

(Lloyd`s Loading List – Phil Hastings)

Most recent shipping industry news relating to Kenya’s Mombasa port has focused on that gateway’s growing container traffic which is this year expected to break the annual one million teus mark.

However, as the Kenya Ports Authority points out, the port is also a major car import centre for both its home country market and the wider East African region, with that trade currently growing at 8-10% a year. The authority also claims that Mombasa is a significant handler of other Kenyan and regional ro-ro traffic, including trucks, buses and construction equipment.

Confirmation of that picture is provided by one of the leading deepsea ro-ro shipping operators serving East Africa. “We see very strong growth potential in that market for both vehicles and project/construction cargo,” stated Ingar Skiaker, CEO of Höegh Autoliners which calls at Mombasa and the neighbouring Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam on three of its regular services – East Asia (Japan, South Korea, China and Singapore) to Africa; Middle East (UAE) and India to Africa; and US to Middle East and Asia via transhipment in Jebel Ali, UAE.

Expanding on that point, Skiaker explained that ro-ro traffic through the two East African ports was nearly all inbound. “That trade includes both new and secondhand vehicles, plus all sorts of construction machinery and project cargo, both re-exports out of the Middle East and new equipment out of East Asia, particularly China. There is also secondhand equipment out of the US and to a certain extent out of Europe.”

In fact, said Skiaker, construction and project cargo made up a bigger percentage of Höegh’s East African traffic than was the case on many of the line’s other routes. “It is an important part of our business in that market,” he said. Longer term, he added, Höegh was likely to look at further broadening the scope of its ro-ro services to that region.

However, while total international ro-ro traffic into Mombasa and East Africa generally is growing, the overall level of trade to that region specifically from Europe has remained largely the same in recent years.

That, at least, was the picture painted by Helen Palmer, director of Sutcliffes Maritime, a UK-based shipping agent/forwarder which has for many years offered ro-ro services to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam out of Sheerness, England, and Antwerp, Belgium.

“In that trade, we mainly ship used vehicles, particularly road building equipment, plant, trucks, tractors, trailers, cars and 4x4’s. Overall, that market remains very much the same as it has for some years although it has recently been going up and down like a yo-yo from month to month. Right now, the market has eased off again,” she stated.

One of the factors behind that, she said, was the recent economic downturn in Europe which had resulted in fewer secondhand vehicles being put up for sale as operators held off updating their fleets. A second factor, suggested Palmer, was that East African countries were tending to buy more vehicles and equipment from China rather than Europe.

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