By Mike WackettContainer lines this week succeeded in imposing rate increases across most routes covered by the composite Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI), which recorded a jump of 9.4%.
Spot rates to South America, the Middle East and South Africa surged by 35%, 31% and 30% respectively, week-on-week, transpacific rates leapt by some 15%, while Asia-Europe rates held firm.
Rates from Shanghai to the US west coast were up $191, to $1,479 per 40ft, while to the east coast rates edged down slightly, by $60 to $2,565 per 40ft.
Annual contract negotiations for the transpacific trades are now in full swing and carriers will be relieved to see rates for the US west coast bounce back after several weeks of losses.
Concerns have been raised in the past few weeks about the impact on rates that the non-alliance carriers – Hyundai Merchant Marine, Zim and SM Line – would have on the route from next month.
In its review of South Korean SM Line’s entry into the market in a few days’ time, Alphaliner predicted it would “heavily discount its freight rates in order to secure sufficient cargo to fill its ships”.
Meanwhile, Asia-Europe carriers have announced new FAK rates for North Europe and the Mediterranean to coincide with the alliance reshuffle which launches tomorrow.
Spot rates recorded by the SCFI ticked up marginally for both trades this week: for North Europe there was a 2.8% increase to $838 per teu, while for Mediterranean ports there was a 4.9% improvement to $837 per teu.
Westbound Shipping, based at London Gateway – which will shortly welcome its first Asia liner service from THE Alliance – believes market rates from Asia will increase to around $2,000 per 40ft from 1 April as a consequence of the new FAK increases.
It predicted they would “no doubt soften week by week, or at least towards the end of April, before the next sharp increase comes into effect”.