Container shipping rates rise globally as restocking boosts demand

The all-inclusive trans-Pacific container shipping rates to North America stayed afloat in the week to Dec. 17 by a renewed push to restock retail inventories in the period between the calendar year-end and Asia’s Lunar New Year celebrations beginning Feb. 1, which will curb factory and transport operations.

August-September-peak season approach to the holiday shopping season saw more acceptance of premium service fees in addition to ocean freight rates by the shippers as compared in the week to Dec 17.

 Sources said that some shippers were shopping around the market for the best rates or deferring cargoes until after Lunar New Year, where possible. 

But demand has increased from a lull in October-November and Asian export hubs have come face to face with a growing shortage of empty equipment as the holiday import rush places more equipment out of position.

As carriers impose General Rate Increases with expectations of higher demand, the premium rates for Southeast Asia-to-North America cargoes have seen a hike this week. 

Sources reveal a rise of $1,000-$1,500/FEU for shipments to the US West Coast and $500-$1,000/FEU for the US East Coast. 

A source in China quoted the surge at $500/FEU to the US West Coast and $1,000/FEU to the East Coast, confirming that premium rates rose while FAK rates were unchanged.

All-inclusive rates on trade lanes from Southeast Asia were heard at $17,000-$19,000/FEU and $15,000-$17,000/FEU to the East Coast and West Coast of North America, respectively.

An Indian-based source says that “Every price is valid in the current market. There is no one rate. It all depends on the kind of deal you can strike.”

Another Indian-based source said demand has slowed down but equipment shortages persist.

He said, “I recently booked two containers for Australia at an all-inclusive rate of $5,400/TEU. This is lower than around $5,700/TEU nearly a month back,” 

Container volumes at Singapore port were recorded at 3.15 million TEUs in November, up 0.5% from the same month last year, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. Throughput was nearly 6% higher month-on-month, the data showed.

Container rates to Europe are also seeing a hike, on the back of mid-month GRIs coming to force alongside firmer demand ahead of Lunar New Year in February, which is arriving earlier than in previous years.

Platts Container Rate 1 – North Asia to North Continent – rose $1,000/FEU on the week to $15,500/FEU on the back of the Gris, while PCR3 – North Asia to the Mediterranean – rose $750 to $14,750/FEU on Dec. 17.

Shippers worry about meeting the demand and delivering of goods this year owing to logistical constraints.  

Source: Platts

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