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Freight Market Update: March 15, 2024

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Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: The ocean freight rates from China to North America display contrasting trends; West Coast lanes witness a slight decrease of around 5%, attributed to a minor dip in demand. In contrast, East Coast rates exhibit a relative stability, hinting at a steadier demand. This variance underscores ongoing complexities in trade dynamics, with projections suggesting a cautious near-term outlook on rate movements, influenced by ongoing geopolitical events and trade policies.
  • Market changes: The market is adjusting, with U.S. container imports showing resilience in February, despite a murky forecast. The Chinese New Year’s timing has added volatility, impacting shipment schedules. Amidst these conditions, transpacific trade lane negotiations reveal shippers’ hesitance, faced with a 10-15% fluctuation in spot rates and concerns over service reliability.


  • Rate changes: Freight rates from China to Europe have marginally increased by nearly 3%, as carriers manage capacity against fluctuating demand through strategic blank sailings and the contemplation of GRIs. The post-Chinese New Year period brings additional unpredictability to rate stability.
  • Market changes: European market dynamics are shaped by lingering high inventory levels against a backdrop of cautious demand recovery, potentially softening the impact of anticipated rate increases. The influx of new, ultra-large vessels challenges carriers to navigate capacity amidst evolving trade flows, hinting at a complex rebalancing act.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: Air freight rates from China to the U.S. have decreased by around 20%, while rates to Europe have surged by approximately 15%. These trends underscore distinct demand patterns, with Europe witnessing a revival in cargo movements. Despite these variances, a global rate decrease of nearly 10% indicates a fiercely competitive landscape, where capacity adjustments and demand shifts are pivotal.
  • Market changes: The sector is witnessing a cautious demand recovery and strategic capacity recalibrations. Notably, e-commerce continues to shape route dynamics, offering airlines a strategic leverage. With a 13% increase in tonnage from the Middle East & South Asia, the air freight market responds agilely to geopolitical tensions and economic shifts, showcasing its resilience and adaptability.

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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