The Upply data base shows that ocean freight rates are starting to fall for 40 HC dry containers between Antwerp and Miami. This erosion was expected following the implementation of customs surcharges on a certain number of European products on October 18 by the United States.
The effects of the US-Europe trade war have been largely anticipated by the market. Over the July-October period, companies placed a large number of orders for the end of the year so as to escape the expected increase in customs duties as much as possible. For now, therefore, the situation is calm.
The current year will nevertheless remain a good year for trans-Atlantic shipping companies. The slight deterioration in results expected in December will not upset the positive tend of the last 12 months.
Hapag Lloyd, which has a lot of capacity in this trade, has established itself as one of the main beneficiaries of this buoyant market. It has taken full advantage of the American flag flown by some of its ships, which is obligatory to compete for certain contracts.
In 2018, Sino-American tensions produced a boom in end-of-year freight rates for shipping companies on trans-Pacific routes. History repeated itself in 2019 in the trans-Atlantic trade but with rate increases three- or four-times lower, which thus had less impact on the financial results of the major groups.