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Event Report

Insights Call with Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO at Hapag Lloyd: The Future of Container Shipping

On August 18, 2020, the AmCham Germany Regional Chapter Northern Germany hosted a webinar with Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO at Hapag Lloyd, on COVID-19, world trade and the future of container shipping. The event was moderated by Frank Scholl, Corporate Finance Partner at BDO AG.

At the beginning Dr. Henning C. Schneider, Regional Chapter Chair, Northern Germany and Frank Scholl, Corporate Finance Partner at BDO AG welcomed the participants of the webinar on COVID-19, world trade and the future of container shipping and introduced Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO at Hapag Lloyd. 


Economic Outlook Highly Uncertain 

The restrictions on world trade have started to ease, but the economic outlook for Hapag Lloyd remains highly uncertain – with these words Hapag Lloyd CEO, Rolf Habben Jansen, introduced his remarks. He further explained that a negative growth of -7% in total trade is expected in the baseline in 2020. In the US, the month of May was the worst in terms of regression of port handling volumes, for the full year a drop of 8% is expected. In Europe however, economic activity has been growing in April, but with notable differences among the countries and container handling.

Container Transport Volume Not Quite as Severely Affected as Initially Expected

Also the container transport volume in 2020 is significantly affected by COVID-19 but not quite as severe as initially expected. Habben Jansen stated that the idle fleet is down from its peak in May to 5% as demand picks up slowly. However, the orderbook activity remains at a historical low. Also exports and imports on the Atlantic and Transpacific trade declined by 5 to 10% and the imbalance between eastbound and westbound trade remains a strong challenge throughout the future.

How Hapag Lloyd manages COVID-19: Performance Safeguarding Program Secures Liquidity

Hapag Lloyd employees were taking all the right precautions and were able to work from home, Habben Jansen mentioned. However, this doesn’t change the fact that volumes went down dramatically in the first half of 2020 due to COVID-19 related issues. But, supply chains have been running smoothly during the entire pandemic and in a recently conducted survey with the Hapag Lloyd costumers the business scored high satisfaction rates.

In June, Hapag Lloyd implemented a Performance Safeguarding Program (PSP), with which the company secures liquidity and at the same time achieves relief on the cost side. “Thanks to the various measures we have introduced in recent months, we are still on track”, Habben Jansen said. The PSP program has been a complete success and helped Hapag Lloyd in the crisis. “The focus remains on the safety and health of our employees, but naturally also on securing the supply chains of our global customers”, he further explains. Hapag Lloyd will closely monitor the further course of the COVID-19 pandemic and reacts to changes in the market. Habben Jansen ends with: “The pandemic is and remains a major uncertainty factor for the entire logistics industry.”