Transportation & Logistics Analysis

The level of ocean freight rates should be of concern to the market

October 10 2023

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BAROMETER. Pending the gradual implementation of ETS surcharges, the collapse of prices is continuing in containerised maritime transport. Asia-North Europe spot freight rates are now below 4 digits.

Reducing the number of ship departures in Asian ports has not been enough to halt the drop in freight rates on the Asia-Europe and Trans-Pacific corridors. Demand is sluggish, although some hopes of a rebound remain plausible from December onwards for restocking campaigns or new orders relating to the launch of new product ranges out of China.

The weak demand from Western shippers is maintaining the down cycle for exports from Asia this month, which will undoubtedly allow them to arrive in a strong position during the new annual contract negotiations.

Unlike the complete lull on the Asia-Europe corridor, the Transatlantic routes are experiencing a slight high-season phenomenon, to fuel the demand related to the Christmas holidays with short transit times to the United States. As a result, by the end of September, the fall in rates seemed to have stalled on transport to the United States from Europe, but at compensation levels that are far from making up for the losses of the other two major trades lanes for the shipping companies.

After this gloomy month of September, blank sailings are back in force. What will happen if a slight recovery is confirmed at the end of the year? An abrupt reintroduction of capacity could kill any attempt to reverse the trend in freight rates. A scenario that has often happened in the past.

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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).
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