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Breakbulk July 2018

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12 The Journal of Commerce | July 2018 www.joc.com Breakbulk & Project Cargo their assets in a new joint venture, Zeamarine. The shareholders in Zeamarine, which requires antitrust clearance, have pledged funds to grow the joint venture, which will have a fleet of more than 75 five ships that is expected to top 100 by the end of the year, making it the world's third-largest multipurpose shipping and is also drawing new blood into the business, particularly in Europe. Consolidation hit a new high in May with Germany's Zeaborn Group, a relative newcomer to the industry, and Houston-based Mari- time Holdings Delaware, the parent of Intermarine, a leading project, breakbulk and heavy-lift cargo carri- er, announcing an agreement to pool impact is expected to be limited as 45 million tons of US imports last year accounted for just 8 percent of the global breakbulk trade, accord- ing to Drewry. Leading breakbulk companies are cautiously optimistic. Thorco Projects, which was established in 2003, enjoyed rapid growth in its first four to five years, but has experienced "very harsh "market conditions since, according to co-founder Thor Stadil. But the Danish company has seen a general pickup in the market since the end of 2017, which "seems" to have continued into this year. The improving market condi- tions are also reflected in steady increases in vessel charter rates over the past 12 months. A 12,500-dead- weight-ton (dwt.) vessel equipped with heavy-lift gear was earning $7,247 a day in May for six-to-12- month charters, up from $6,163 a year ago, according to Toepfer Trans- port, a Hamburg-based ship broker. And a 17,000-dwt. geared ship is earning $9,100 a day, compared with $8,000 a year ago, according to Lon- don-based broker Clarksons Platou. The harsh business environment in recent years has spurred consol- idation across the breakbulk sector Bremenports GmbH & Co. KG European ports hopeful despite global politics Europe's top breakbulk ports have had a mixed performance during the past year and are likely to be the biggest victims of the Trump administration's steel tariffs and Washington's reinstatement of sanctions on Iran. Antwerp, the market leader, booked a 4.8 percent growth in conventional breakbulk volume in 2017, to 10.3 million metric tons, driven by a 7.8 percent increase in imports and exports of iron and steel, to 8.35 million metric tons, with rising shipments from India, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam offsetting a 44 percent slump in imports from China to 657,000 metric tons because of anti-dumping measures by the European Union. But breakbulk was the only cargo segment to decline in the first three months of 2018 — Antwerp's best ever quarter — with the 3.1 percent drop to 2.51 million metric tons attributed to the volatility of nonferrous metals and wood traffic and further containerization of cargoes. Rotterdam's conventional breakbulk cargo grew 9.8 percent year over year in 2017 to 6.46 million metric tons, driven by the shipment of monopiles for offshore wind projects, and higher steel and aluminium shipments. Traffic slumped however, by just over 2 percent in the first quarter of 2018 to 1.4 million metric tons because of

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