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Freight Market Update: December 4, 2023

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Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: The ocean freight rates between China and North America have shown varied trends. Rates for Asia-US West Coast lanes increased slightly by 3% to $1,613/FEU, reflecting a moderate uptick. Conversely, Asia-US East Coast prices showed a marginal decrease of 1% to $2,362/FEU. The market is witnessing a balancing act between rate increases and declines, suggesting a complex interplay of demand and supply forces. Looking forward, the rates might oscillate around these levels, influenced by factors like carrier strategies and geopolitical dynamics.
  • Market changes: In the China-North America trade lanes, the market is witnessing unique dynamics. The recent decision by some carriers to implement surcharges for shipments using the Panama Canal due to transit reductions could start exerting upward pressure on East Coast prices. Additionally, the North American market is responding to global events, like the Red Sea security incidents, though the direct impact on China-North America lanes remains to be seen. These developments highlight a market that is sensitive to both regional and global geopolitical and economic factors.


  • Rate changes: Recent trends in the China-Europe trade lane show specific adjustments, such as a 2% increase in rates on lanes like Shanghai to Rotterdam and Genoa. These increases suggest a nuanced and mixed rate environment, reflecting the complexity of the current market. This specific data points to a selective strengthening in demand or capacity management on these particular lanes.
  • Market changes: The China-Europe lane is experiencing significant shifts in capacity. The reduction in scheduled Asia – N. Europe capacity by 21% in November, with a 24% reduction announced for December, is a response to current market conditions. Despite these capacity adjustments, overall capacity still remains higher than pre-pandemic levels, indicating a market coping with overcapacity. The introduction of new, larger vessels into service loops and the current economic scenario in Europe, marked by inflation and high inventory levels, are further shaping the market dynamics.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: The air freight rates have been more dynamic, with China to North America weekly prices increasing significantly by 20%. In contrast, China to North Europe rates increased more modestly by 6%. These changes indicate a stronger demand for air freight services to North America, possibly driven by factors like e-commerce growth and seasonal trends.
  • Market changes: The air freight market is currently dealing with an overcapacity challenge, similar to ocean freight. This situation has led some carriers to ground freighters temporarily, anticipating a rebound later in the year. Despite a seasonal bump in volumes, the overall increase has been modest, hinting at a tempered peak season. The market is also adjusting to security disruptions in critical regions like the Red Sea, which could impact future rate trajectories and operational strategies.

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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