IMDO Q1 2020 iShip index

bigstock-Container-Ship-In-Import-expor-92291114.jpgThe latest IMDO iShip index for Q1 2020, which is a weighted indicator comprised of five separate indices, representing the main maritime freight categories moving through Irish ports is now available to download here.

iShip Index

In Q1 2020, the IMDO's iShip1 index recorded a 6% decline in overall shipping activity. Tonnage declines in the Dry Bulk and RoRo markets drove this decrease, contributing 65% and 30% to the fall respectively. Across all market segments, the Bulk market makes up 55% of Irish tonnage, the RoRo market 30% and LoLo market 15%.

Unitised Trade

When combined, the RoRo and LoLo sectors make up the unitized trade market. This market largely represents finished goods further along the supply chain than the raw materials traded in the bulk markets. In the three months to March, the total Irish RoRo traffic fell by 5% while LoLo traffic declined by 3%. In order to provide added context and insight to these changes, there were three main contributing factors which should be noted.

Firstly, Q1 2019 experienced significant growth in both sectors. RoRo traffic expanded by 9% while the LoLo traffic grew by 7%, both outpacing its quarterly average of 5% between Q1 2015 – Q4 2018. Driving the growth in Q1 2019 was a period of inventory stockpiling that took place in as the UK's proposed date of departure from the EU approached on March 29th. Secondly, a period of inclement weather in February 2020 led to some cancelled sailings, reducing freight carryings during that time. Lastly, restraints on economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact upon the RoRo and LoLo market in the latter half of March 2020. Business closures across retail, construction and hospitality sectors will have begun to impact the both markets from this period onwards.

The onset of COVID-19 in March stalled the recovery from lost sailings due to inclement weather in February.


As highlighted above, the Dry Bulk market drove almost two thirds of the overall Irish tonnage decline in Q1, reflecting the large volumes traded in this market. A drop in agricultural and construction commodities such as fertilizer, animal feed and bauxite contributed to much of the Dry Bulk decline. Large variability due to seasonal factors and weather patterns are common in these markets.


Also some impact trading was felt in Q1, the restrictions placed on economic activity in Ireland and across the world as a result of the COVID-19 virus will become apparent in Q2 2020 for the Irish shipping markets. It is certain now that there will be considerable tonnage decline across all market sectors. The IMDO continues to monitor these markets closely as well as their indications for the wider Irish economy.

Download the full report here.


For further information please contact

Holly Faulkner
Marketing & Communications Manager
Tel: +353 1 775 3958

About the IMDO

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) is Ireland’s dedicated development, promotional and marketing agency for the shipping and shipping services sector. The IMDO is the Irish government agency which provides support to national and international maritime businesses in Ireland. It is the aim of the IMDO to be the focal point for maritime business in Ireland. The IMDO provides government and industry with a range of information and reporting across the sector and works with international businesses to help them set-up or expand in Ireland.

Along with quarterly economic analysis and academic research, the IMDO produces an annual statistical bulletin on the Irish shipping market; The Irish Maritime Transport Economist. This is Ireland’s most comprehensive source of national maritime traffic data. The latest edition of the Irish Maritime Transport Economist Volume 16 is available from the IMDO website here: