The chemical industry moves a lot of product by ship. Recent rises in freight rates have therefore had a major impact on costs for producers and consumers. But there was always the thought that rates would soon decline, once shipbuilders began delivering all the new ships on order.
But now Bloomberg is suggesting that 10% of these orders have already been cancelled due to the credit crunch. 'A year ago, banks would finance as much as 80% of an order, with 12- to -15- year loans,' according to Fortis Bank. 'Now, financing usually doesn't exceed 65%, and terms are 10 years or less'.
And the squeeze is not just affecting ship-buyers, but also those planning to build new shipyards. 20% of current orders are scheduled to be built by Chinese shipyards that are themselves not yet in operation. Equally, there are major delays on critical parts - the waiting time for main engines is now 4 years, and even for diesel generator is 2 years.
Supply chain managers must be starting to wonder whether globalisation and outsourcing will remain viable tools for cost-reduction.