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Transpacific carriers expect front-loading, but Asia-Europe to suffer


ASIA-NORTH Europe carriers continue to discount rates to fill their ships, suggesting that the usual pre-peak season recovery will be late, if it happens at all.

CMA CGM has slashed its headhaul FAK rate on the tradelane by US$200 from June 16, to $1,700 per FEU as spot rates continue to slide.

The North Europe component of the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI) declined a further 4.4 per cent last week, to $745 per TEU, and spot rates on the route have slumped by 25 per cent since the beginning of the year. Compared with the same week a year ago, they are 13.6 per cent lower, according to London's Loadstar.

One UK-based 3PL said carriers were "beating down my door" to offer discounts, although he said they were all relatively short-term deals.

"At this stage we are holding off, as carriers have a habit of making you pay for jumping ship when space gets tight," he said. "But if the market doesn't tighten in the next couple of weeks, we might review our position."

However, spot rates for Mediterranean ports, recorded by the SCFI, were stable last week at $741 per TEU, but are still some 19 per cent below the level of a year ago, with no suggestion that the route will see an early improvement.

On the transpacific, the SCFI recorded a drop of 1.6 per cent on the week for Asia to the US west coast, to $1,416 per FEU, while rates to US east coast ports edged down 1.5 per cent to $2,464 per FEU.

Rates are some 11 per cent higher for the US west coast and 10 per cent for US east coast ports on a year ago, and still to work out the tariff-beating front-loading cargo spurt from the back end of last year, as well as being stabilised by carrier capacity discipline and blank sailings.

According to digital booking platform Freightos, prices are also being shored up by a potential new round of front-loading.

It said: "Advance ordering resumed in May, following President Trump's threat to slap a tariff on all untaxed imports, and many of them are now close to being shipment-ready."

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