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Alphaliner warns of tough second half for Asia-North Europe

Liners are bracing for a tough second half of the year with rates sliding across the board in recent weeks. The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) spot rates from China to North Europe currently stand at just $810 per teu , down 19% since the beginning of the year and 15% lower than the same time last year.

“Carriers have struggled to raise rates on the route this year due to the introduction of new megamax vessel capacity on the route,” Alphaliner noted in its most recent weekly report.

Despite HMM deciding to withdraw its Asia-Europe Express (AEX) standalone service later this month, Alphaliner warned the move may not be sufficient to stop freight rates from falling in the rest of the year, with demand expected to soften over the coming weeks.

The latest figures on the transpacific are also underwhelming, especially considering August is meant to be the peak season.

Latest freight rates for services destined to the west coast of North America declined 7.2% to $1,474 per fey. East coast freight rates fell 5% to $2,660 per feu.

“The combination of advanced shipments in May, a recent drop in advance shipments due to the tariff truce, and insufficient time to advance ship and beat the now-instituted tariffs all add up to surprisingly low August demand,” commented Eytan Buchman, CMO at online freight platform Freightos in a recent weekly report.

On the Mediterranean trade, there has been some glimmer of hope with many shipping companies announcing a peak season surcharges from tomorrow, lifting spot rates by 14.6% to $974 per teu.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. With the US imposing tariffs (and then cancelling them …..and maybe re-introducing them…….) and with the weaker Chinese currency, plus the upcoming peak season and attempts to beat the 2020 bunker surcharges, coupled with blanked sailings, reduced tonnage availability due to vessels being docked for scrubber fittings and the onset of Brexit (because that seems to affect everything negatively)………. one might expect that MORE cargo which previous was going to the US might find its way to Europe.
    That should cause freight rates on China-Europe to actually INCREASE?
    Hell, what do I know more than the experienced consultants who have all the historic data?

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