Carriers React Swiftly to Import Growth, Peak Shipping Rates Increased

Jun 28, 2010, 13:50 ET from The Journal of Commerce

NEWARK, N.J., June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in three years, market conditions favor ocean carriers and they are quickly using their advantage to recoup some of their $15 billion collective loss of 2009.  U.S. importers, although enthusiastic about rising market demand, are growing increasingly concerned over the ability to ship efficiently and cost-effectively.

(Photo: )

(Photo: )

The National Retail Federation projects retail import shipments in the June-October period will increase up to 15 percent compared to the same period last year, reports The Journal of Commerce this week. 2009's cutbacks and trend toward conservative planning have left vessel space and available containers limited and ocean carriers are leveraging this to raise freight rates and surcharges and take advantage of less-than-tightly-worded contracts.

"They're out to make up for all of last year's losses this year," said Hayden Swofford, independent administrator of the Pacific Northwest Asia Shippers Association.

During the week of June 21, Drewry Shipping Consultants' Container Rate Benchmark for non-vessel operating common carrier spot rates from Hong Kong to Los Angeles reached $2,607 per 40-foot containerload, the highest point in the benchmark's five-year history and nearly 300 percent higher than prices last June.

As of June 18 the comprehensive reading on the New Shanghai Container Freight Index – which tracks average spot rates for exports moving from Shanghai in 15 trade lanes – was $1,569.04, 56.9 percent higher than Oct. 16, 2009.

This week's Cover Story discusses the approaches carriers are taking to bring balance to their budgets and the impact on trans-Pacific shippers, a driving force for U.S. trade and transportation.  

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SOURCE The Journal of Commerce