- Rates to Singapore are as low as $5 per TEU, while rates to Shanghai and Hong Kong have also decreased to about $10 per TEU.
- Cargo is often booked with “no freight cost” but invoiced for a nominal amount for insurance purposes.
- Indian customs regulations require carriers to re-export empty containers within six months, affecting intra-Asia rate trends.
Indian-Asian Trade Routes Hit Hard, Intra-Asia Rebound in Sight. Containerized trade between India and key Asian intermediate ports experiences significant rate erosion post-Covid, with Nhava Sheva (JNPT) and Mundra to Port Kelang bookings dropping as low as $1 per TEU. Singapore sees carriers willing to ship at $5/TEU, and rates for Indian shipments to Shanghai and Hong Kong sink to around $10/TEU.
In recent weeks, rates in the reverse direction for these port pairings have trended upwards, with forwarder sources reporting increased TEU rates for imports into Nhava Sheva/Mundra from major carriers in Singapore/Shanghai at $450, and from Hong Kong at $325, marking a 30% increase from previous prices.
Notably, Nhava Sheva witnessed 180,000 TEU of empty export boxes between April and June, compared to 93,000 TEU of empty imports.
Carriers Adapt Strategies
Hapag-Lloyd plans a $200/TEU increase for container loads from India to the US east coast starting from August 1, while MSC is eyeing a $500/TEU rise for India-US trade, also effective August 1. Despite the export downturn, Indian container volumes experienced a 12.5% month-on-month slump in June, and export/import boxes handled by Indian Railways fell by 11% year-on-year.
A consortium consisting of RCL, PIL, Evergreen, and CUL has recently upgraded the China-India string, introducing larger vessels averaging 6,000 TEU (compared to the previous 3,000 TEU) and adding three additional port calls at Shanghai, Ningbo, and Karachi. The inaugural sailing is scheduled for July 17. The new port rotation covers Shanghai, Ningbo, Shekou, Singapore, Port Kelang, Nhava Sheva, Mundra, Karachi, Port Kelang, Singapore, Haiphong, and back to Shanghai.
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