Sea Level: the ocean blog

12/15/2022 | 2 min

Every month we’ll provide you with critical updates on Global Ocean Freight, sourced from our own Market Intelligence solution, including expert analysis from our freight specialists.

Ocean Market Trends Europe – East Asia, December 2022

  • Contract rates on the Europe to East Asia backhaul have dropped 12.6% compared to November, despite continuing bottlenecks at European ports and inland terminals.
  • A falling shipping rates for exports, as well as an improving supply of imported components, contribute to the surprisingly robust business performance of many producers, despite rising energy costs.
  • This trade has been falling since June and further reductions are forecasted for January and February, as contract rates are rapidly narrowing the gap toward spot and are closing in on pre-pandemic rate levels.
  • The balance here has definitely shifted, and shippers for whom this trade is central can confidently approach upcoming tenders.

Ocean visibility: two critical elements

First, we are witnessing a change in market circumstances, gradually moving from a global shortage on empty containers and heavy congestion at ocean terminals toward overcapacity. This will result in ports being taken out of ocean service loops, changing transshipment locations, and departure timeslots being skipped (so-called blind sailings).

In both circumstances, we can expect to see considerable delays in ocean shipments and ongoing uncertainty in comparison with what you have booked. Even though empty containers have become more available, they are not always immediately where you need them. Using an effective ETA prediction tool will continue to be beneficial as early visibility is the best defense against delays and volatility.

Second, demurrage and detention are still major points of concern for ocean freight.

In the context of congested terminals, this creates an additional problem for detention charges. Even when our customer transports the empty container back to the sea terminal on time, a congested terminal may refuse to accept the redelivery of the empty container. As a result, the carrier will charge increased detention fees, and shippers have little to no control in this situation. Though we expect the pressure on terminals and hinterland connections to reduce gradually in the coming months, it will take some time to feel the effects.


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