The unstable ruble and lira devaluation, the coming Kurban – bairam and imposition of U.S economic sanctions that are aimed at economic isolation of Turkey – all these factors caused the freight rates in the Azov and the Caspian regions to continue falling in the height of a grain season. The average workable level for voyage ex Rostov to Marmara reached USD 26 pmt of wheat and USD 28 for voyage ex Astrakhan – Iran.
Early last week in the context of tense political atmosphere between Turkey and the United States, the American President signed a decree on a significant increase of import duties for steel and aluminum. One of the main responses to these actions was the depreciation of the lira by 25% in just a few days, yet since the beginning of the year the national currency has fallen by 45% against the dollar. This had adverse effects over buying power of Turkish millers. Thus, market participants are not confident in the further development of current favorable business conditions in the country in the nearest future. To avoid concluding contracts which may turn out to be potentially disadvantageous most of Turkish Importers prefer to exercise ‘wait-and-see’ approach. Grain Traders suggest that the freight rates should decline until September, meanwhile Turkish businessmen may adapt to new market realities.
On the eve of Kurban – bairam the long-term hauls to Mediterranean Sea become the most popular on the market due to lengthy weekend within August 17 – 26 in Muslim countries. It means the Islamic grain partners will be out of touch. For this reason Ship Owners are planning their activities with Muslim countries (Turkey, Iran) in a way to avoid the holidays in ports of discharge in the countries where Kurban – bairam is celebrated. Today Mediterranean directions are in great request, consequently, freight rates have started to decrease.
Furthermore, last week a sharp drop in the price of the ruble against the dollar and the euro had an impact on the freight market. The prices for the main grains (wheat, barley, corn) on the Russian domestic market have skyrocketed. Also sharp cheapening of the ruble against the dollar and the euro last week had a significantly impact on the freight environment. The Charterers are reluctant to conclude new contracts as they prefer to wait for the most advantageous price for selling. Therefore, nowadays there are a lot of spot vessels in Astrakhan in expectation of new parcels of grain cargo on the Caspian market.
Despite the overall deteriorating situation on the freight scene, Russian-flagged fleet remains sough-after. High demand for such a tonnage is still trending for work on the roads of the Kavkaz port and for shipments from the Volga ports. This is explained by the fact that most of high-quality grain parcels are located in the river elevators.