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Freight Market Update: February 23, 2024

Red sea, a large cargo ship sails on the sea

Ocean freight market update

China–North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight rates from China to North America have seen a mixed trend this week. Rates to the US West Coast showed a slight increase, by a single-digit percentage, while rates to the East Coast experienced a more notable rise, at around a low double-digit percentage. The disparity in rate changes underscores the varying capacity and demand dynamics across the Pacific trade lanes.
  • Market changes: The market has been adjusting to the ongoing disruptions in global shipping lanes, particularly due to the Red Sea situation. Shift in carrier strategies including route diversions and adjustments in vessel deployment continues, with the goal to mitigate the impact of these disruptions. The lead-up to the Lunar New Year has also intensified demand, with shippers eager to move goods ahead of the holiday period, leading to tighter capacity and increased operational challenges since.


  • Rate changes: Rates from China to Europe have continued their upward trajectory, influenced by the ongoing global shipping disruptions and the pre-Lunar New Year shipping rush. The increase is somewhat more pronounced on the Mediterranean routes, with rates climbing by mid to high single-digit percentages. The North Europe lanes have similarly seen rate hikes but at a slightly lower magnitude.
  • Market changes: The rerouting of vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, in response to the Red Sea disruptions, continues to significantly impact transit times and operational costs. Carriers and shippers alike are navigating these challenges by adjusting schedules and exploring alternative routes. Equipment shortages and space constraints remain critical issues, prompting some shippers to consider premium service options for urgent shipments.

Air freight/Express market update

China–US and Europe

  • Rate changes: The air freight market from China to both the US and Europe has shown signs of stabilization this week, with rates experiencing minor adjustments. The rates to the US have slightly decreased, by around 5%, reflecting a balanced demand-supply equation. Conversely, rates to Europe have seen a marginal increase, attributed to a slight uptick in demand as shippers look for alternatives to ocean freight amidst ongoing disruptions.
  • Market changes: The global air cargo market is witnessing a steady recovery, buoyed by a shift from ocean to air in response to maritime disruptions. Despite a surge in volumes from China, particularly to Europe, the market has absorbed this increase without significant rate hikes, indicating a robust capacity management by carriers. The stability in air freight rates, despite increased demand, suggests a balanced interplay of market forces.

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. The accuracy or integrity of the information is not guaranteed.

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