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Freight Market Update: April 26, 2024

a cargo ship

Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: In the ocean freight sector, rates from China to the US West Coast have seen a substantial decrease, falling by approximately 11% this week, reflecting a softening in demand possibly linked to a buildup of inventories. Conversely, rates to the US East Coast have remained stable, indicating a different demand pattern on this trade lane. Notably, rates are still significantly higher compared to 2019 levels, reflecting the long-term impact of increased e-commerce activity and changes in consumer behavior.

  • Market changes: Recent geopolitical events, including tensions in the Middle East, have influenced maritime logistics, with implications for shipping routes and safety protocols. The easing of tensions and the reopening of previously restricted routes are likely to gradually stabilize market conditions. Additionally, the introduction of larger vessel capacities and the strategic management of sailing schedules are responses aimed at addressing the persistent issue of overcapacity in the sector.


  • Rate changes: The freight rates from China to North Europe saw a decline of around 7%, while the rates to the Mediterranean areas dropped slightly by about 2%. These adjustments come in anticipation of potential General Rate Increases (GRIs) that carriers may implement to counterbalance the rate volatility experienced in recent months.

  • Market changes: The European market remains under pressure from high inventory levels which continue to suppress the urgent need for new import shipments. However, the recent modifications in canal transit policies, which have increased the allowable vessel draft, are expected to enhance container movement efficiency, potentially stabilizing rates and improving supply chain fluidity in the upcoming quarters.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: In the air freight domain, rates from China to North America have notably decreased by about 16%, a reflection of reduced urgent demand and an increase in air freight capacity. On the other hand, the rates to Europe have increased by nearly 8%, driven by a sustained demand for rapid transit of goods amidst ongoing disruptions in ocean shipping routes.

  • Market changes: The air freight market is currently facing challenges of overcapacity, which have been exacerbated by a slow recovery in demand post the global disruptions. This overcapacity has led to a noticeable decrease in rates, despite a transient rise in demand driven by disruptions in alternative transport modes. Forwarders and carriers are increasingly exploring the use of technologically advanced logistics solutions to enhance efficiency and adapt to the rapidly changing market conditions.

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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