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Strong demand for the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trades continue to stress major ports in Asia, increasing levels of rolled cargo. According to global data provider, Ocean Insights, the average container rollover rate at leading transhipment ports including Asian hubs such as Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas and Kaohsiung stands at 28.5 percent. While some levels have improved, most major Asia-based ports are still scrambling to keep up with demand for equipment and vessel space. For example, China’s Ningbo port rolled an average of 43.5 percent of their cargo during the month.
“Container lines are trying their best to cope with critical box shortages in Asia, but this is putting more pressure on operations and freight rates,” said Josh Brazil, chief operations officer at Ocean insights. “Carriers also no longer have the option of adding more vessels to boost capacity — almost the entire global fleet is currently active.”
Almost every container line saw rollovers increase in October. MSC’s rollover ratio was 22.9 percent and Maersk was 35.1 percent in October. THE Alliance lead member Hapag-Lloyd’s rollover ratio grew to 37.7 percent, Japanese carrier ONE saw its ratio rise to 39.3 percent, and amongst Ocean Alliance members, Cosco’s ratio increased to 26.4 percent while Evergreen’s rose to 31.8.
October and November are typically slower seasons for the trade, but the unexpected demand for Asian exports has nearly all vessels full and left equipment stranded in the US and EU – resulting in a massive issue with equipment placement. With the National Retail Federation forecasting a strong finish to the holiday season, the trans-Pacific trade is expected not get any relief until after Chinese New Year.
EU Feeling the Pinch Too
Asia-Europe tradelanes are expected to be stressed for sometime too. UK importers are facing major challenges from the decision by Ocean Alliance members to divert five more vessels from Felixstowe in December. An advisory told UK customers that select Cosco vessels would no longer call the major port of Felixstowe and instead would discharge their UK imports at the Belgian port, Zeebrugge. The 2M and THE alliance partners are also diverting ships away from the heavily congested UK ports, the former discharging UK cargo at Bremerhaven.
UK importers are already dealing with severe congestion at Antwerp and Rotterdam. While carriers have made repositioning equipment their priority, UK exporters are now faced with suspensions of sailings or only securing space with the payment of a premium fee from other North European ports.
Meanwhile, the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) is lobbying the European Commission to intervene in the crisis. “Customers are upset that carriers appear to have been taking advantage of the capacity crunch to increase revenues much beyond their costs,” said Denis Choumert, president of the ESC.
FMC Increases Global Alliances’ Information Monitoring Report Requirements
Pursuant to direction from FMC Chairman Michael Khouri, the Commission has issued letters to the three global carrier alliances (2M, THE, and OCEAN) requiring that certain carrier-specific trade data currently filed with the Commission quarterly, must now be submitted on a monthly basis. Due to the recent fluctuations in the markets, the FMC has decided that they need to receive key trade data directly from alliance carriers on a more frequent basis.
Container Trades Eye Boost from Intra-Asia Economic Deal
Intra-Asia container trades and cross-border trucking are set to be among the early beneficiaries from the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signed last week by 15 member countries, including China, Japan, and South Korea.
The agreement could boost total global container volumes by nearly 2 percent, or 3.3 million TEU by 2030, according to one estimate. For more information on China's New Asia-Pacific Trade Pact, go here.
Shippers on Alert, but Heathrow Dismisses Delay Fears as Staff Strike
Despite warnings from forwarders, Heathrow says there will be no disruption to cargo operations on December 1 when Unite union members are set to strike.
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