Remarkably, on both lanes this week, transpacific ocean pricing is more than double what it was this time last year. China-West Coast has increased by 130% and China-East Coast by 126%. That’s because, whereas, last November prices were falling as peak season wound down (respectively dropping 30% and 29% in the four full weeks of November), this year prices have largely held. China-West Coast prices are down just 4% from three weeks ago, China-East Coast prices are 8% up.
Peak season this year is as much about getting to port before the January 1 tariffs as it is about getting to the shelves before December 25. Ocean carriers have also shown more discipline on capacity and have been rewarded with rates double last year. The last-minute efforts to beat Jan 1 will likely extend the peak season for a couple more weeks yet. Unless, of course, sparks fly when Presidents Xi and Trump meet up at this weekend’s G20 summit. If tariffs are slapped on those products so far spared, the subsequent rush to pre-stock will extend peak season through to February.”- Zvi Schreiber, CEO, Freightos
This week’s report
|Week 47||Week 46||Last year*|
|China – US West Coast||$2,452||-3%||130%|
|China – US East Coast||$3,778||3%||126%|
|China – North Europe||$1,467||0%||-7%|
|North Europe – US East Coast||$1,515||0%||6%|
|* Compared to the corresponding week in 2017|
Peak season is over for the China-Europe lane. Over the past eight weeks, prices have come in within a narrow $128 band between $1,441 and $1,669. However, when 2M’s AE2/Swan Asia-North Europe loop resumes next month, prices will drop well below that band.
The mid-month GRI was anything but impressive. Still, transpacific prices have generally held through November, with China-West Coast prices just 4% down on three weeks ago and China-East Coast prices 8% up. In a different light, those same prices look a lot more impressive. It’s the 16th week in a row that China-West Coast prices have breached the $2,000 mark and 17th straight week for China-East Coast prices above the $3,000 mark. More impressive still is that transpacific ocean pricing is more than double what it was this time last year.
Like the financial markets, carriers can only guess what happens next with trade tariffs. So, don’t expect much from the December 1 GRI. But, stay tuned for the outcome of this weekend’s G20 summit. With both countries smarting from the tariffs, and neither leader wanting to back down, the guessing game may continue. In that case, freight prices will largely stick. But any backing down or agreement will see freight prices dropping significantly. If instead, the administration increases tariff rates and/or the range of imports subject to a tariff, then prices will rise.
Continuing high transpacific ocean prices reflects increased demand. LCL and FCL bookings on Freightos went up 40% and 42%, respectively in October, a marked contrast to last year when there was no increase at all.
The Freightos Baltic Indices reflect weekly spot rates for 40-foot containers based on 12 to 18 million price points collected every week on 12 main shipping trade lanes. The data includes a headline index – the FBX Global Container Index (FBX) – a weighted average of the 12 underlying route indexes. This data is published every Sunday. See www.balticexchange.com/market-information/containers/