The outlook for the Asia-West Africa trade is improving, but there is much ground still to recover. Freight rates have stabilised after carriers rowed back on capacity additions.

Container throughput during the third quarter of this year in the southbound Asia to West Africa trade grew at its fastest rate since the last period of 2014, rising by 7% year-on-year, according to Container Trade Statistics.

This built on the 3% growth recorded in the second quarter, which marked the first upswing in over two years. The latest figures yielded a year-to-date growth rate of 3.2% with volumes landing just over 900,000 teu after nine months. Highlighting just how awful the Asia to West Africa has been over a number of years, even if the current growth rate were to be maintained through the remainder of the year, volumes would still close under the 2012 mark at approximately 1.2 million teu. That sum would be down by about 18% on the recent peak of 1.5 million teu registered in 2014.