Ocean carriers only hang on to their big freight rate increases obtained at the beginning of June, July, and August up to the beginning of September, Drewry said in its latest pricing report.
“Greed then took over, with September’s GRIs being a waste of everyone’s time and replaced by reductions which took rate levels back to just below where they were at the beginning of June, continuing the roller-coaster ride.”
According to the World Container Index, by September 19 the average freight rate from Shanghai to Genoa was back at US$2,132 per 40-foot container, a reduction of 22 percent compared to August’s high of $2,740 per 40-foot unit. However this was still much better than May’s loss-making average of around $1,450 per 40 foot, said Drewry.
“As usual, carriers blame each other for the downturn, but the lack of any meaningful peak season so far appears to have unsettled everyone,” it continued.
Ocean carriers have clearly suffered from the absence of the first peak season involving the arrival of goods in the Mediterranean before the traditional August holiday season, so all eyes will now be on the Christmas season.
The average freight rate from Genoa to Shanghai continued to oscillate around $675 per 40-foot container in August and September, ending up at $683 per 40-foot unit on September 19, but with vessels only being just over half full.
“Ocean carriers remained in a hopeless negotiating position, except where local shortages of empty container equipment existed, particularly inland,” noted Drewry.
More general rate increases have recently been announced, but, as with past GRIs, these are unlikely to stick, forecast the maritime research company, noting, however, one saving grace: fuel prices remained stable.
“Westbound freight rates will continue to decline until a serious vessel capacity reduction program is launched,” it concluded.