Taken overall, business levels in 2012 were stable for SMIT Harbour Towage operations beyond Europe. At the same time, the challenges in the container sector, arising from declines in volumes from China and elsewhere in the Far East, are likely to persist over the next six to 12 months. Today’s shipping environment is characterised by the prevailing trend - fewer calls by larger vessels.

The bulk sector was stable in 2012, although levels were still some way from those seen in 2007. The major Asian economies continue to display growth. China leads the way, with growth in tonnage well above five per cent. The Japanese and Australian markets are stable. In the latter case, however,  volumes of coal and iron ore are still on the increase. In South America, volumes are still growing in Brazil.

Brazil is a core business area for SMIT Towage and other SMIT and Boskalis activities. The Brazilian market has been galvanised by the phenomenal success of this country’s oil and gas sector. Looking at the Brazilian ports, general cargo volumes are still on the increase, although the vigorous rate of growth enjoyed in recent years may slow somewhat. SMIT’s Brazilian fleet continues to expand. The first in a series of six new 45 tonnes bollard pull tugs
arrived in December. The remaining five will join the fleet at a rate of one per month until May. This will increase SMIT’s Brazilian tug fleet from 18 to 24 units (plus an additional three on bareboat charter). The four “frontrunners” still
operating in Brazil will be phased out during the first half of this year.

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