Container Shipping Rates to Europe Surge for Ninth Consecutive Week

The spot rate for shipping goods in containers from Asia to Europe has risen for the ninth consecutive week, marking the longest period of increasing prices since the pandemic disrupted global supply chains in 2021.

According to the Drewry World Container Index released Thursday, the cost of shipping a 40-foot container from China to Genoa, Italy, reached $7,029 last week, the highest rate since September 2022. The cost to Rotterdam increased to $6,867. Both rates have nearly doubled since April.

On the busy trade route from Shanghai to Los Angeles, the rate rose for the seventh consecutive week, reaching $6,441. Although not all freight is moving at such high prices, the spot market for containers reflects the balance between available ship space and importer demand. This balance has tightened over the past six months as vessels avoid the Red Sea, where Houthi rebels have attacked commercial traffic, including sinking a bulk commodity carrier earlier this week.

Shipping rates on the spot market are even higher than those reported by Drewry, according to Petersen. During a Bloomberg Television interview in London on Thursday, he noted, “Right now, shipping a container from China to the UK costs about $10,000 unless you have a contract. Many of those contracts signed at lower prices are not being honored, with surcharges being added.”

Petersen mentioned that predicting the future trajectory of shipping prices is challenging. Carriers have invested some of their record-high pandemic profits into new vessels that will enter service through 2026, which should alleviate the current capacity crunch. However, he also highlighted concerns about delivery reliability later this year, prompting some companies to place orders now instead of waiting. Among the threats is a potential dockworker strike at ports along the US East and Gulf coasts, which could push container rates above their pandemic highs if it significantly disrupts cargo bound for those gateways.

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