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Chinese New Year and Red Sea Situation See Shipping Rates Surge

Shippers are reporting a surge in spot sea freight rates for moving goods from Asia to Europe in the lead up to Chinese New Year. Some forwarders have reported increases of up to $4,200 since December to move a 40ft container from Asia to Southern Europe, with an average increase of around 23% seen on this route more generally over this period. Those who have secured contract rates, meanwhile, are finding a lack of capacity is leaving them grounded in a situation not dissimilar to that seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Though a short-lived surge in rates is typically expected ahead of the Chinese festival during an otherwise quiet period for shippers, other factors influencing rates have forwarders and their clients concerned. 

The news comes at a time when shippers are already beginning to see an increase in rates as a result of the attacks taking place in the Red Sea. As we reported recently, the attacks have forced major carriers otherwise headed through the affected area to re-route around the Cape of Good Hope. This is adding, on average, 3,500 miles and 10 days to standard transits and increasing rates because of increased fuel consumption. 

Though it’s likely any increase in costs as a result of increased demand ahead of Chinese New Year will soon settle, it’s too soon to say how the ongoing situation in and around the Red Sea will affect rates into 2024. 

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