Weakening Demand Sees Empty Containers Increase

Weakening Demand Sees Empty Containers Increase

The calmer end of year shipping season has seen empty containers pile up at Chinese ports such as Guangzhou, Yantian and Shekou, marking a complete reversal of the severe equipment shortages experienced during 2021’s pandemic-induced consumer spending boom. 

Indicative of the slower pace are the lower rates with prices such as  $1,550 per feu from Shanghai to Gdansk, and less than $1,000 per teu for other China-Europe lanes. 

According to Linerlytica, freight rates from the Far East to Europe, the Middle East and Africa have continued their downward spiral and suffered the sharpest falls last week, amid volume weakness across all trade lanes. 

Contract rates for the 2023 season appear certain to fall by as much as 80%, as they mirror the drop in spot rates and the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) is already down by 73%, year on year. 

Simultaneously, carriers are flagging a new round of general rate increases in December, but this is unlikely to eventuate when surplus capacity is present. 

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Rachael Budd & The Transolve Global Team

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