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Freight Market Update: April 19, 2024

Boat passing Pedro Miguel locks in Panama

Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean rates from China to the US West Coast remained stable, reflecting a balanced supply-demand scenario. Meanwhile, rates to the US East Coast experienced a slight decrease of around 1%, likely due to an increase in available shipping capacity and modest shifts in consumer demand. This trend underscores the dynamic nature of trade routes and the continuous adjustments carriers make in response to changing market conditions.

  • Market changes: After months of restrictions, the Panama Canal is nearing full operational capacity, which could enhance transit availability and potentially stabilize rates further. With the ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions in the Middle East affecting the Red Sea routes, shifts in supply chain dynamics are anticipated. The East Coast of North America continues to see diversified port use, helping to maintain a balance despite potential disruptions from external factors like the recent bridge collapse. The overall demand in North America remains robust, projected to stay strong throughout the second quarter.


  • Rate changes: Rates on the China to North European and Mediterranean lanes initially increased but then stabilized, reflecting a flat demand across Europe influenced by high inflation and stock levels. Ocean rates from China to North Europe experienced a noticeable increase of approximately 7%, and rates to the Mediterranean climbed by about 3%. Another General Rate Increase (GRI) might be targeted soon, with additional blank sailings announced, aiming to correct the supply-demand imbalance.

  • Market changes: The market is witnessing a stabilization phase after earlier rate hikes, with a massive influx of new ultra-large container vessels tempering further increases. Demand remains subdued, and the large supply of capacity continues to pressurize rate levels. Adjustments in service routes and schedules are being made in response to these market conditions.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: Air freight rates from China to North America surged by approximately 69%, while rates to North Europe slightly decreased by around 2%. This reflects a significant variance in demand dynamics between the two regions. In comparison, rates for North Europe to North America showed a marginal increase.

  • Market changes: The air cargo capacity is tight, with ongoing high demand from e-commerce driving up rates. The recent geopolitical tensions and logistical disruptions have further strained the available capacity. Forwarders and carriers are focusing on securing space to manage anticipated peaks in demand, particularly as we approach the fourth quarter, which is expected to be highly active.

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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