ContainersGreater China

Liners bow to Beijing’s intervention and ease pricing on the transpacific as America issues warning

Major containership lines have adjusted their pricing on the transpacific after Chinese transport authorities intervened to curb the surging rates on the tradelane with American officials also warning they’re ready to step in.

The actions by the liners follow in the wake of the Ministry of Transport holding a meeting with the carriers last week, demanding to normalise pricing and deploy more capacity to North America amid a period where rates have surged to record high levels.

This is not the time to get too greedy

According to Dennis Zhou from Ningbo-based online maritime platform, Zest Shipping Media, Cosco and OOCL have cancelled a general rate increase (GRI) that was supposed to be implemented earlier this week and Maersk has also reduced its rates to the US west coast and US east coast to $3,900 per feu and $4,700 per feu respectively from $4,200 and $5,000.

“That would seem to be the most sensible thing to do right now. The rates are already at a level where good voyage profits can be made, and this is not the time to get too greedy. One can only hope that when the market turns, which ultimately it will, that rates remain in the profit-making range and not decline to loss-making where they have been for the majority of the last decade,” Andy Lane, director of Singapore-based CTI Consultancy, said.

“Our pricing will as always follow the principle of being market relevant, transparent and fair. Any changes to pricing will follow our usual channel with required advanced notice to customers accordingly, allowing them to prepare their shipping plan,” a Maersk spokesperson told Splash.

Cosco has declined to comment on the matter.

“The threat of intervention will likely serve as a warning to carriers to use their controls wisely, ” commented Eytan Buchman, chief marketing officer at online rate platform Freightos.

The soaring rates on the transpacific have also drawn attention by authorities in other countries.

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in the US held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue of the spiralling rates. The discussion also looked at the make-up of the current liner alliances. The FMC said yesterday it is actively monitoring freight rate issues.

“If there is any indication of carrier behavior that might violate the competition standards in section 6(g) of the Shipping Act, the Commission will immediately seek to address these concerns with the carriers. If necessary, the FMC will go to federal court to seek an injunction to enjoin further operation of the non-compliant alliance agreement,” the commission warned.

Elsewhere, South Korean liner operator HMM announced this week that it will deploy an additional 4,600 teu boxship, HMM Integral, on a US west coast service from September 29 after the Korea International Trade Association expressed concerns on rising shipping costs.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.
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