September ocean freight rate rises deferred


Attempts by container lines to boost spot rates on the main east-west trades in the last weeks of the peak season, via 1 September general rate increases (GRIs), appear to have faded, with average ocean freight spot rates for last week and this week showing slight declines, according to leading indices.

The World Container Index assessed by Drewry indicated that average spot rates on the Asia-Europe and the transpacific trades all declined last week. Rates on the Shanghai-Rotterdam route fell 2% or $37 in the seven days to 31 August to reach $1,702 per feu, compared with the previous week, and were down 7%, year on year.

Meanwhile, average spot rates on Shanghai-Los Angeles dropped by 4% or $59 compared with the previous week to reach $1,561, and were down 7%, year on year. And rates on Shanghai-New York fell by 4% or $104 to reach $2,473 for a 40ft box, although rates remain up 15%, year on year.

Drewry said that the failure to push through rate increases for September indicated that this year’s ocean freight peak season may not be as strong as the rate and volume recovery in the first half year had suggested. “Since the GRIs, in the initial week of September, have been deferred, the peak season rate growth is expected to be moderate this year,” Drewry said.

This was also reflected in the latest figures from the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI), which indicated that Asia-northern Europe spot rates for this week are 4% below last week’s levels, averaging $886 per teu, while Asia-Mediterranean rates are down 3.8%, week on week, dropping to $791 per teu.

Transpacific freight rates for this week were also slightly below last week’s levels. Average spot rates on routes from Asia to the US west coast fell 3% to $1,495 per feu, and spot rates from Shanghai to the US east coast fell by 5.7% to $2,280 per feu, according to the SCFI.