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Freight Market Update: March 8, 2024

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Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight rates between China and North America have seen nuanced adjustments. Rates on the Asia to US west coast lane declined by 3%, yet they remain multiples of those reported at the same time last year, suggesting a market that continues to adjust to a complex set of global and regional factors. Rates to the US east coast saw a similar decline, but also remained over 100% higher year on year. This rate behavior underscores the unpredictable nature of current trade dynamics, with expectations leaning towards a cautiously optimistic outlook for the coming months.
  • Market changes: Market conditions reflect a strategic anticipation of evolving trade patterns, underscored by the recent slight downturn in rates yet a substantial year-over-year increase. The intricate dance between demand and supply, exacerbated by global logistical challenges, hints at a broader need for adaptive strategies. Importers and carriers alike are navigating a landscape marked by uncertainty, with potential shifts in capacity deployment due to global events playing a significant role in future market directions.


  • Rate changes: In the trade lane between China and Europe, rates have begun to find a new equilibrium, with a minor decrease of 1% in recent assessments, yet they contrast sharply with the rate levels from a year ago, marking a significant upsurge. This stabilization amid fluctuations points towards an ongoing recalibration of market forces, where supply and demand dynamics continue to influence rate trends significantly.
  • Market changes: The market dynamics within the China-Europe corridor are adjusting in response to a mixed set of influences, ranging from economic pressures to shifts in carrier strategies. Notably, the introduction of larger vessels has introduced a new variable, with the potential to impact rates and capacity availability moving forward. As the market responds to these changes, stakeholders are faced with a complex decision-making landscape, where agility and foresight will be key to navigating the evolving trade environment.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: The air freight segment from China to the US has experienced a rate increase, driven by a robust demand, especially from the e-commerce sector. Conversely, rates to Europe have taken a downward trajectory, reflecting divergent market forces and highlighting the variable nature of air freight economics. The sector remains highly reactive to shifts in demand, with rates to the US showing a notable increase of around 5%, contrasting with a decrease of nearly 6% to Europe. This variance underscores the importance of strategic agility in the face of fluctuating market conditions.
  • Market changes: Capacity concerns in the air freight market have become increasingly pronounced, particularly on routes from China to North America, where a shortfall in passenger flight operations limits available cargo space. Despite these challenges, some forwarders are securing additional capacity through long-term commitments and charter services, reflecting a proactive approach to managing supply chain continuity. The dynamic nature of the market, with some sectors experiencing significant capacity constraints while others see more balanced conditions, highlights the ongoing need for adaptability and innovative logistics solutions.

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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