Omicron threatens easing of freight rates

by | 10 Dec 2021 | International News, RSA News

The impact of vaccination rates will play a significant role in projected global economic growth in 2022, with predictions that it will slow to 4.3% from 5.7% this year on the back of a downward trend in the post-pandemic rebound.

Developing markets in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, however, are expected to record faster growth in 2022, after Covid-19 continued to disrupt activity heavily in 2021 due to their low vaccination rates.

That’s according to the Focus 2022 Special Report compiled by FocusEconomics, which predicts that, as expected, Asia will take the top spot, growing at by far the fastest pace, but that sub-Saharan Africa too will record “respectable growth”.

The bottom of the ladder is Latin America, with the commodity boom expected to tail off and the region lacking other major growth engines.

With goods demand likely to slow next year as consumers switch to spending on services on the back of a possible revival in international travel, container shortages could ease, the analysts believe.

“Indeed, freight shipping rates have already pulled back somewhat from their September high, but that said, the new Omicron variant poses a risk in this regard. If it leads to widespread border closures and tougher domestic restrictions, this could spur renewed demand for goods over services.”

Stricter lockdowns could also see a repeat of port disruptions – with the attendant impact on cargo flows that has been evident throughout the pandemic.

But despite the threat of more new variants, the authors are confident that the damage should still be much more limited than in past waves. “For one, companies and consumers are now well adapted to working around restrictions, which should limit their economic fallout. Plus, lockdown fatigue among citizens may limit how far governments are willing to push any new restrictions.”