Global container shipping will see no growth this year and one-third of new ships on order for 2009 might not be built or delivered to customers. That is the dire forecast for the industry in a recent report by Transport Trackers, a Hong Kong transport consultancy. At best, under an optimistic scenario, the report foresees an eventual recovery for the industry in 2010, although the danger remains that the downturn could continue and be the worst in the industry for decades. 'Global container trade is set for zero growth and significant abuse in 2009, including the build-up of nasty barnacles on idled hulls [of ships not delivered to customers],' said the report. The global container trade, which grew just some 3 to 4 per cent last year, would be flat this year and show 6 per cent growth next year, said Charles de Trenck, the founder of Transport Trackers. This is lower than the normal average annual growth of 9 per cent for the global container trade. Last year, the decline in container volume from Asia to the United States was 7 per cent, compared with a 15-year average annual growth of 8 per cent, said Transport Trackers. This year would see a 5 per cent decline in container volume from Asia to the US, it predicted in its report. Container trade from Asia to Europe would fall 9 per cent this year, it said. 'Intra-Asia has often been heralded as a more stable container trade. But in 2009 it is expected to register a 3 per cent growth against 5 per cent in 2008 and 8 to 9 per cent historically,' Transport Trackers said. In 2010 and 2011, as much as one-third of dry-bulk ships and one-third of the container ships on order might not be delivered to customers or built, Mr de Trenck said. Last year, the world was left with 10 per cent excess container capacity, or 1.2 million 20-foot equivalent units, the Transport Trackers report said. 'We should also generate 10 per cent capacity growth in 2009, given that trade growth should be around zero. So this leaves us with 20 per cent excess capacity of vessels by end-2009. In 2010, we are also looking for deliveries to be in excess of demand,' the report said. Willy Lin Sun-mo, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers' Council, said: 'I would be extremely hesitant to say that it will be that bad, although overcapacity is there. Many ships will be delivered, but may be delayed.' Customers would want to take the new ships, because they offered larger capacity and thus saved money, he said. The Transport Trackers report foresees two scenarios. The more optimistic one sees a sustained recovery next year, assuming expanded money supply, lower interest rates and a rebound in consumer demand in developed economies. In the pessimistic scenario, 'credit contraction, corporate blow-ups and consumer belt-tightening will continue in 2009'.