The delayed but anticipated impact of the Suez blockage on Asia-Europe container flows and freight rates finally kicked-in this week, according to freight marketplace Freightos.
Carriers seeking to avoid or minimize delays caused by congestion growing at ports like Rotterdam – where a queue of waiting ships has formed – are skipping port calls and off-loading containers at alternate ports, speeding the return of empty containers to equipment-scarce Asian origin ports, but causing more difficulties for many European importers.
The surge of arriving ships in key Asian ports is causing delays there as well. Port congestion and delays at both origins and destinations are expected to make the container shortage in Asia worse over the next few weeks, before easing in early June.
All this also means that Asia-Europe rates – that until last week had fallen 14 percent from their February peak of $8,455/FEU, while transpacific and transatlantic rates increased – are climbing again, 6 percent, since last week to $7,762/FEU. Asia-Mediterranean prices climbed 7 percent as well, to $7,889/FEU, just 2 percent under their March peak, though backhaul rates from Europe to Asia have remained unchanged as carriers focus on returning empty containers.
The impact of the Suez blockage on Asia-Europe ocean prices finally kicked in this week.
- Asia-North Europe rates climbed 6 percent this week to $7,762/FEU, after falling 14 percent since February through last week.
- Asia-Mediterranean prices increased 7 percent, to $7,889/FEU, just 2 percent under their March peak, though backhaul rates from Europe to Asia have remained unchanged as carriers focus on returning empty containers.
China- U.S. rates:
- China- U.S. West Coast prices (FBX01 Daily) went unchanged at $4,854/FEU. This rate is 204 percent than the same time last year.
- China- U.S. East Coast prices (FBX03 Daily) increased 2 percent $6,222/FEU, and are 131 percent higher than rates for this week last year.
The Ever Given has certainly complicated things. But container rates from Asia to North Europe had already nearly quadrupled from November to the start of 2021, showing that global ocean freight is not equipped to deal with extreme volatility in demand of the past year. This week, the UN released a report into the causes of the delays and extreme rates during the pandemic, including recommendations on how to avoid these outcomes in the future, among them more scrutiny of pricing practices.