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Freight Market Update: September 15, 2023

container cargo freight ship

Ocean freight market update 

China–North America

  • Rate changes: Asia to North America ocean freight rates were level in the past two weeks, with the west coast ones seeing a slight decrease to under $2,000 per FEU, according to price indices. Some industry analysts reported that carriers are keeping rates up through an increase of rejections despite idling capacities. With volumes declining (as multiple signs suggest), some believe carriers are even looking to the Lunar New Year for the next rebound. 
  • Market changes: The recent rates trend is not a typical one given the time of the year, i.e., weeks before China’s long Golden Week holiday, when in past years volumes tend to increase as importers look to avoid the slowdown in China early October. The weakening demand indicates that the summer peak is over, and casts doubt on any optimism for a recovery in the short-term.


  • Rate changes: Rates for Asia to North European and Mediterranean lanes were stable at the beginning of the month, but fell sharply this past week. Carriers on these lanes had to cancel more sailings last-minute, going above their already aggressive blanking programs.
  • Market changes: The transatlantic spot rates have sunk to a level 50% lower than before the pandemic, prompting some to warn the danger of a collapse of this market. Some industry executives have anticipated this dire situation when carriers were “pumping” capacity into these trade lanes earlier in light of lucrative rates.  

Air freight/Express market update

China–US and Europe

  • Rate changes: In the air cargo market, the China to North America rates saw a fair rate increase in the last two weeks, but the China to Europe ones remained significantly lower than a year ago. Overall, airfreight rates have fallen to their lowest level since the pandemic began, according to Xeneta and Tac Index.
  • Market changes: Many key players in the industry remain pessimistic about a rebound in air freight volume until at least early next year. However, some are predicting “pockets” of rate rises associated with the cancellation of some freighter flights, highly anticipated new product shipments for Apple, and soft cargo demand increase in China’s e-commerce exports. These will probably not be significant, nor will they add up to a “peak”. 

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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