Rising Rates And Tight Spaces Caused by Skipped Port Calls

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Container spot rates from Asia to the US have regained traction after China’s Golden Week holiday, while rates to Europe appear to have plateaued and could ease over the coming weeks, reports The Loadstar.

US and North Europe hub ports

Both trade lanes are still experiencing acute capacity issues, with a high percentage of tonnage idled, awaiting berths at chronically congested US and North Europe hub ports.

On the transatlantic, the FBX reading for North Europe to the US east coast inched up to $7,219 per 40ft, having already soared by 230% since the end of March as carriers’ redeployed capacity to other routes, despite strong demand forecasts. 

The FBX reading for North Europe was virtually unchanged, at $14,492 per 40ft, with the spot for Mediterranean ports ticking up marginally, to $13,361 per 40ft. 

The wait can be longer than 3 weeks

Indeed, according to forwarding contacts, space from North Europe remains “very tight”, with one UK forwarder telling The Loadstar today that the wait for space on US loaders is “about three weeks minimum – longer with some lines”. 

For east coast ports, the spot rate increased by 6.5%, to repass the $20,000 marker at $20,695 per 40ft. According to today’s reading of the Freightos Baltic Exchange (FBX), Asia-US components, the spot rate for a 40ft to the US west coast jumped by 8.5% on the week, to $17,377. 

To avoid delays

Notwithstanding the capacity constraints on transatlantic services, exporters from North Europe continue to suffer from booking restrictions to the Middle East and Asia, as carriers prioritize empty container restitution overloaded exports.

“I can understand that the lines will want to utilize the hubs to avoid delays at UK ports, but the cynical side of me says they will use this to massage their statistics to indicate they are making great strides to keep on schedule,” he said. 

The decision to omit scheduled port calls due to berthing delays, while succeeding in turning ships around in North Europe at a quicker pace, is creating a build-up of frustrated exports and canceled empty evacuations at several ports. 

Last-minute decisions

While the port of Felixstowe’s well-documented quay and landside congestion issues have been attributed to the HGV crisis in the UK, the diversion of ships to other European hubs has also contributed, as the number of uncollected Asia-bound empties has grown. 

And the increasing number of ship diversions in North Europe is adding to problems for exporters experiencing booking cancellations, due to the last-minute decisions by carriers to skip ports.

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Source: The Loadstar

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