Maersk sees growth in Nigeria’s containerised import market in 2014

containers28 March 2014, Lagos – In spite of the heightened political activities in the country ahead of the 2015 general elections, the Nigerian subsidiary of one of the foremost shipping firms in the world, Maersk Nigeria Limited (MNL), has said Nigeria’s containerised  import market will enjoy what it called “positive growth” in 2014.

Maersk Line is the core liner shipping business of the Maersk Group. It is currently employing approximately 25,000 people in 325 offices over 125 countries worldwide. The Nigerian office was established in 1988 with the head office in Apapa, Lagos and branch office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Its fleet comprises of more than 600 vessels and a number of containers corresponding to more than 3,800,000 twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU) just as it reached its 2020 target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25 percent container TEU from its benchmark 2007 levels. This is eight years ahead of time.

The firm which a key member of the Danish logistics and port operations giant, AP-Moeller Maerrsk Group said in its trade report that despite the challenges facing the Nigerian economy, the containerized import market to Nigeria for 2013 was strong and is estimated to have ended at approximately 422,000 forty foot equivalent units (FFE) compared with 2012, where volume shipped was approximately 383,000 FFE.
This represents a year-on-year growth of around 10 percent and shows healthy increase in Nigerian imports when compared to 2012, which only witnessed a 4 percent growth in volume.

“This strong growth, in times when we see global demand increases at only around five per cent year-on-year, lends support as to why economist include the country amongst the MINT economies with promise of continued sustained growth in the future.

“Products coming into the country continue to be dominated by electronics, building materials, chemicals, used cars and industrial supplies. The trend of import commodities have remained the same for the past years and China continues to be Nigeria’s largest import trading partner, with the United States of America, Netherlands, India, Germany and Turkey following”, the report released by the firm and obtained by THISDAY added.

According to the report, the change in import policy on some goods has had adverse effects on the volume of rice and frozen fish into Nigeria. Rice imports, for instance experienced a complete stop due to the increase in tariff by 110 percent, whilst the government also imposed import quotas on fish to boost local production.

It revealed that for the past three years, tiles and ceramics which are mainly imported from China have seen significant growth owing to the increase in construction across the country.

Continuing, the report quoted the Managing Director of Maersk Nigeria Limited, Mr. Jan Thorhauge,  saying: “The import of building material is expected to continue to be buoyant in 2014, along with electronics another segment which will see good growth due to the increasing middle class in Nigeria.

Pre-election spending is also expected to generate volume if we go by previous trends. To this effect, items such as paper, stationery, printing material as well as electronic display units would likely see a sharp increase in import volume. Logistics in the automobile industry will experience change in 2014, pending increased duties on fully built up units.

“The enactment of new import policies will see increased containerisation of vehicles in knocked down condition shipped to new assembly plants in the country. All of these indications suggest positive volume growth in containerised imports in 2014.”

According to Thorhauge, containerized market in Nigeria continues to be strongly dominated by imports, and for the last six years, the import/export ratio has remained at around 92 per cent import versus 8 per cent export.

Nigeria has witnessed a good trend of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) multinational companies increasing their presence, and building capacity to cater to domestic demand. A part of the production from these industries is making their way as exports to other neighbouring African countries increasing regional trade.

He disclosed that the federal government’s drive to privatise the power sector will encourage domestic production and industry will grow to create more jobs whilst boosting exports just as Maersk Line has started a new service from Apapa, Nigeria to Tema, Ghana to facilitate export of finished goods.


– John Iwori, This Day

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