Shipping Lines serving the Asia to Europe routes have started the Chinese New Year breathing fire and brimstone. Having imposed some modest increases to freight rates prior to the CNY holiday, they’re trying to keep the momentum going post CNY with some red-hot increases already announced for March and beyond. Amid claims from most Lines that current rates are unsustainably low, one Line (so far) has been bold enough to brandish rate increases of US$ 300.00 per TEU in March followed by a further increase of US$ 300.00 per TEU in April.
Many analysts point to the simple imbalance between shipping capacity supply and demand, within the context of a flat-lining (or at least sick) European consumer market, as ample cause for rate increases to remain sluggish. Add into this mix the competition to secure and carry each and every container. With the services offered by shipping lines only really varying with transit time and price, the easiest differential to adjust is price – downwards! So, whether the Lines can keep this New Year flame alight or whether it dissolves into a damp squib remains to be seen.