Container lines operating on Asia-Europe trades are “taking stronger measures” than usual to maintain the recent recovery in ocean freight prices by making major cuts to capacity in the weeks after Lunar New Year, according to ocean freight rates benchmarking specialist Xeneta.

And it appears that lines’ efforts to prop up ocean freight prices have been successful – so far. Since towards the end of 2016, the market has experienced a strong and sustained recovery, with container rates around 125% higher than they were around this time last year for Asia-Europe routes, Xeneta said.

But with overcapacity still not fully addressed, there are still uncertainties if the market is to return to being “truly a seller’s market”, the company noted. But reports from its sources indicated that carriers “are taking stronger measures to deal with overcapacity to make sure the market stays up”, Xeneta said. Xeneta sources are reported that lines were attempting to prop up prices by reducing westbound sailings by 33% in the week immediately after Lunar new year and by around 43% from full capacity next week.

“Whether this will keep the rates up, is still to be seen. However, liners are, for sure, taking ‘extra-than-usual’ measures to make sure the market remains in their favour,” Xeneta said. This behavior from carriers may mark a distinct difference compared with this period normally in previous years, when rates traditionally slide in the aftermath of Chinese New Year (CNY), the company added. “As we have reported earlier, long-term rate negotiations have been stalled or pushed from late last year as shippers are waiting to see how the market weighs out. Carriers have accepted this delay with perhaps strong confidence that CNY would not make much of a huge difference than pre-holiday.”

These reports from Xeneta’s sources on lines’ capacity management efforts supports this latter idea that lines will be successful in keeping rates relatively strong and stable in the coming weeks. “The weaker lines in the new alliances to start this year will also be able take advantage of the stronger alliances’ more efficient capacity management measures,” Xeneta noted. “It may stay a seller’s market after all – at least for some time.” Recent figures from the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI) also support this conclusion. Spot rates on the major east-west container shipping trades have seen a rare period of stability in 2017 so far, with Asia-Europe and transpacific trades rates on the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index continuing to hold firm in the first week of February.

The latest SCFI, which uses Shanghai as a base origin port, shows rates to the US east coast from Asia at $3,639 per feu, have climbed by a marginal 0.1% over the previous week, while those to the US west coast fell by 0.7% to $2,092 per feu. And thanks to a spike in cargo ahead of an early Chinese New Year helped and carriers managing capacity much better than in the past, spot rates on the Asia-northern European and Asia-Mediterranean trades were also largely unmoved, falling 1.7% to $1,023 and rising 0.2% to $988 per loaded 20ft unit, respectively, Lloyd’s List reported.


BIFA - Industry News

BIFA hosts EU Exit webinar

The amended timetable in many ways made the event more important and relevant, giving BIFA Members an early opportunity to seek clarity from Government. The timetable changes essentially impose a...


FMC to move forward with two of the proposed demurrage-and-detention related initiatives

Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye was tasked by the FMC to carry out the investigation with the full authority under 46 C.F.R. §§ 502.281 to 502.291, to perform such duties as may be necessary in...


Gatwick Airport Northern Runway - Have your say

Gatwick say that they need more capacity to maintain efficient operations, improve resilience and meet passenger demand. It is anticipated that by 2038 these proposals could increase Gatwick’s...


Border Controls delayed

There have been persistent rumours in recent days about possible delays to the EU Exit timelines. This morning the Government made the following announcement, relating to delays to new controls. The...


EU, US and Chinese regulators meet to discuss liner issues

Three broad agenda items were discussed during the meeting. First, sectoral developments since the start of the Covid pandemic including an analysis of supply and demand and an identification of...


HGV Driver testing changes

First, car drivers will no longer need to take another test to tow a trailer or caravan, allowing roughly 30,000 more HGV driving tests to be conducted every year. Second, tests will also be made...


Recognition of secure status for UK cargo on Road Feeder Service

The United Kingdom has been listed in attachment 6-Fi of the Annex to Regulation (EU) 2015/1998. By virtue of that listing, air cargo and air mail which has been secured in accordance with the...


Port Health Update - 10/09/2021

One of the conditions for importing melamine and polyamide (nylon) kitchenware from China and Hong Kong is that the importer must notify Port Health 24 hours in advance of the intended arrival of...


AAI Group Login

Cookies are small text files downloaded to your computer each time you visit a website. When you return to websites, or you visit websites using the same cookies, they accept these cookies and therefore your computer or mobile device.