Transportation & Logistics Analysis

Genoa - Tokyo: maritime freight rates are shrinking

August 21 2019

One year after the Morandi Bridge tragedy, and as some are predicting important market share losses for the port of Genoa (largest port for container shipping in Italy), we evaluate the situation in this area where freight rates are slightly shrinking to East Asia.

Not only did port players (public and private) immediately mobilize to find temporary and innovative alternatives for the traffic, but also the regional players were resilient enough to keep their clients’ trust.

The maritime companies helped by not re-routing their services. And at the same time, handlers and truckers agreed on unique arrangements to work nights and weekends to help increase traffic speed, and to spread it out.

The port successfully created an alternative route to the traditional bridge pass via a coastal road usable by heavy weight vehicles passing through the port (below the bridge), especially thanks to the efficiency of the police forces placed at the entrance and exit of the temporary rout

This bypass operation only creates a 10 to 15 minute “time waste”. Considering the extent of the disaster, one has to bow to the pragmatism and efficiency of the Italians.

Beyond the pain caused by the accident, the port city of Genoa and all the economic players, were able to stand together to safeguard the city’s vital interests, regardless of the inherent difficulties imposed by the land’s topography.

Dry and reefer freight rates are experiencing pressure levels that are close to the “better than empty” rate for dry containers, due to the long-term price erosion.

Capture d’écran 2019-08-21 à 12.13.44

Capture d’écran 2019-08-21 à 12.21.21

Historical view on average rates (Port to Port with THC) estimated by Upply over the past 24 months – Last update : August 20th, 2019

The West-Med export market is not yet able to fill the services of the 3 Alliances to capacity, which now operate all the ships with over 10-12,000 TEU capacity on this segment

There is no direct service to Japan from the West-Med, goods transfer mostly either in Singapore, or in Hong-Kong or Busan.

For Tokyo, Genoa is a major port for beverages, wine, and liquor (Bacardi- Martini, San Pellegrino…), but also for construction materials, with the world-famous Carrara marble leaving from this port

One important fact to note is that marble containers are in essence extremely heavy. This creates weight allocation issues for shipping companies who rapidly reach the maximum weight of their cargo before filling all of the ship’s available volume. This has a negative impact on the ships fill rate, and further contributes to the freight rate’s decrease.

Photo credit: Photo by Matthis Volquardsen from Pexels


Subscribe to the newsletter

Expert in Ocean shipping for 25 years, Jerome puts all his knowledge of the industry to contribution for Upply. Ship captain at heart, he has written the English-French Lexicon of Containerized Shipping (Paris: CELSE, 2001).
See all its articles