Expert expects sea freight to take longer in the future

April 11, 2023
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A year ago, the rates for a container in sea transport reached $15,000. As challenging as this immense increase was, the rapid fall back to the original $1,500, which is reached after a year, was also sobering. Since the demand for shipping volume decreased again in the summer of 2022, freight rates also fell from August. Now the dealers have trouble selling the more expensive stock goods with a general drop in demand and increasing inflation despite cheaper competition. The shipping companies currently have so few ships in use that they prefer to circumnavigate the Cape of Good Hope to crossing the Suez Canal. At the same time, flexibility is also decreasing: while in the past one or the other container could often be accommodated at short notice, the registration period for goods in US ports now ends about four days before departure.

In the future, climate targets are also likely to result in reduced driving speeds, as Jens Roemer (FIATA) explained to the participants of the GD Wood Foreign Trade Day in March 2023. Although new ships already have the option of using different energy systems, the tank infrastructure in the ports still leaves a lot to be desired. A lower driving speed is a simple measure to save emissions. Roemer also anticipates dockworker strikes in the US as their contracts expire this year. After all: Since the US ports were overloaded two years ago, the Panama Canal was expanded, which can provide some relief.

It is not yet clear what the effects of the dissolution of the 2M ship utilization cooperation between Maersk and MSC will be on sea freight. However, the two major shipping companies are strategically developing in such different directions that such an alliance - which started in 2015 - probably no longer brings the original advantages. While MSC focuses on expanding its own fleet, Maersk deepens its offer within the supply chain (door to door).