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Freight Market Update: August 30, 2023

Logistics and transportation of container cargo ship and cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard at sunrise

Ocean freight market update 

China–North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight rates kept climbing moderately through late August on both the China to US west coast and east coast lanes. The west coast lanes saw a higher pace of increase than the east coast. However, whether these increases would continue is nothing certain, with Chinese exports to the US still staggering this year. 
  • Market changes: In July, New York regained its position as the top container port in the US for import, but so far, the debatable appearance of a peak season brought double-digit declines in throughput at most US gateways. According to carriers, there is still some optimism that on the transpacific lanes, there could be a later-than-usual “subdued” peak season. Meanwhile, Alphaliner said the overcapacity in the smaller sized vessels was “a concern”, as it continues to undermine the charter segment.


  • Rate changes: Despite an earlier rate increase on the China to North European and Mediterranean lanes, more recently European demands remained flat due to inflation and high inventories, leading the rate to stabilize. Carriers are targeting another possible GRI for September, as well as announcing more blank sailings.
  • Market changes: Market analyzers were predicting the rate increases earlier in the month on the European trade lanes to run out of steam quickly. MSI’s Horizon report cites the “gargantuan supply influx” of newly built ultra-large container vessels being phased into service loops as the main reason for that, in addition to weak demands.

Air freight/Express market update

China–US and Europe

  • Rate changes: China to US weekly prices increased, while those to North Europe decreased in the past weeks. These changes are in line with demand situations mentioned above. The global airfreight index indicates an overall decrease in rates through late August.  
  • Market changes: Similar to ocean freight, the air cargo market is also facing an overcapacity issue, with some carriers grounding freighters until a hoped-for rebound later in the year. Notably, demands for e-commerce and general cargo shipment volumes appear to be slowing down as well, adding additional pressure to the rates. Most carriers are seeing little prospect for an upturn in rates as a result of overcapacity.

Disclaimer: All information and views in this post are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute any investment or purchase advice. The information quoted in this report is from public market documents and may be subject to change. Alibaba.com makes no warranties or guarantees for the accuracy or integrity of the information above.

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