May 22 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. will overtake Asia as the biggest driver of global growth this year while Europe’s turmoil is hurting trade flows, said Nils Smedegaard Andersen, chief executive officer of A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S.
The owner of the world’s biggest container line can tell from tracking demand for shipping transport that “the U.S. is starting to help pull some weight, things are moving in the right direction over there,” Andersen, whose Maersk Line unit controls about 15 percent of global seaborne capacity, said in an interview. “South America and Asia were the main centers for growth last year, whereas we see the U.S. playing a larger part this year,”
The International Monetary Fund estimates the global economy will expand 3.3 percent this year after growing 3.2 percent in 2012. China’s output will increase by 8 percent, compared with 1.9 percent growth in the U.S., the fund predicts. The 17-nation euro area will contract 0.3 percent, the IMF said April 16.
“Europe is dragging down the global economy,” Andersen said. “The reasons are well-known: debt, large public sectors and government hand-outs.”
After more than three years of debt turmoil and austerity policies that have exacerbated recessions across the region, Europe has become the world’s worst-performing economic region, according to the IMF. Meanwhile the U.S.’s willingness to embrace more extreme forms of monetary easing and less severe fiscal tightening is buoying a recovery in the world’s largest economy.
Next year, the IMF estimates the U.S. economy will expand 3 percent, compared with 1.1 percent growth in the euro area.
“It ebbs and flows between the regions,” Andersen said in the May 17 interview.
China’s manufacturing expanded at a weaker pace in April in a sign that the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is extending into the second quarter. The Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.6 from 50.9 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said May 1.
Maersk Line on May 17 cut a forecast for global container shipping demand growth to as low as 2 percent from as little as 4 percent previously. Trade volumes on Maersk Line’s most important route from Asia to Europe will grow at an even slower pace, the company said.
– Christian Wienberg, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.