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Freight Market Update May 9, 2024

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Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight rates from China to the North American west and east coasts have seen a notable increase, with rates rising by approximately 10% in the past week. This increase is in line with the general upward trend observed since the beginning of the month. Market analysts suggest this could be a reaction to tightened capacity and increased demand, potentially influenced by ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Red Sea, which continue to disrupt traditional shipping routes.

  • Market changes: The market is experiencing heightened activity due to shifts in shipping routes and the resulting strain on available capacity. Analysts point out that disruptions such as the Red Sea conflict have had a ripple effect, causing backlogs at key transshipment hubs in Asia and the Middle East. This has led to a somewhat unseasonal spike in demand, particularly as shippers anticipate further disruptions and seek to secure capacity ahead of peak seasons.


  • Rate changes: Rates on the China to Europe lanes have also experienced an upward adjustment, with increases roughly around 6% for North Europe and about 4% for the Mediterranean routes. The increase is partly attributed to carriers implementing General Rate Increases (GRIs) and the market’s response to sustained demand despite ongoing global economic pressures.

  • Market changes: Demand on the Asia-Europe routes is replicating patterns seen during the peak pandemic periods, with forwarders reporting demand surges reminiscent of those times. There’s an observed significant growth in demand, possibly linked to restocking activities in anticipation of a traditional peak season starting in May. Additionally, ongoing issues in the Red Sea are further compounding the demand for space, leading to higher rates and more frequent cargo rollings.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: Air freight rates from China to North America and Europe have shown diverging trends. Rates to North America have decreased by approximately 4%, while rates to Northern Europe have seen a more substantial drop of around 7%. These changes reflect the ongoing adjustments carriers are making in response to fluctuating demand and capacity availability.

  • Market changes: The air freight market is also feeling the impact of capacity issues, similar to ocean freight. Significant capacity adjustments are being made, particularly with carriers increasing their reliance on freighters amidst the ecommerce boom. This shift is aimed at leveraging the high demand for e-commerce related shipments, which continues to drive the air freight market dynamics. Additionally, the ongoing geopolitical tensions and their effects on shipping routes are prompting carriers to recalibrate their strategies for the upcoming quarters, anticipating a continuation of the current volatility in demand patterns.

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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