Liners enjoy strong start to 2019 with spot rates jumping 10%

Liners have had a successful start to the year, managing to push through general rate increases and fuel-related surcharges across many tradelanes.

Online platform Freightos is reporting that China-US west coast rates leapt 16% in the past week from $1,722 per feu to $2,003. Similarly China-east coast prices jumped 13% from $2,779 to $3,137, while China-north Europe prices also increased 13% with Freightos reporting more carriers will increase their FAK rates during the month.

Starting from January 1 this year, many top liners have introduced fuel surcharges linked to the global sulphur cap due to kick in from the start of 2020.

Coming into contract renegotiation time at this time, carriers will be hoping that spot prices stay high, Freightos observed in a weekly update.

With these three indexes all up, Freightos’s global index also jumped this week, by 10% to $1,552.

“Here’s the playbook. Transpacific ocean prices drop just before Christmas, and then pick up again early January as logistics managers start replenishing stock. Chinese New Year shutdown causes prices to spike again, but after that, they fall away until next peak season,” commented Philip von Mecklenburg-Blumenthal, a vice president at Freightos. He went on to add: “Well, President Trump tore up the playbook. Importers, fearing trade tariff increases, imported early, pushing prices up from early summer. They were already over-stocked before the latest trade tariff got a 90-day reprieve. If the tariffs go back on, prices will go up again.”

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. FAK rates are not an indicator of actual freight rates paid!
    Why is anyone implementing or even paying bunker fuel increases in early 2019 when the IMO 2020 only comes into effect in … guessed it……2020?
    Right now bunker prices are lower than they have been for a long time and continue to fall.
    What about the wave of new ULCV tonnage that is about to descend upon the container trades? What about the impending recession and near-shoring that is going to impact world shipping trades during 2019?
    Can these comments from Freightos be believed?

  2. What is missing here is the number of the actual transaction Freightos is basing its figures. The Shanghai index contradicts Freightos figures. We know Shanghai is based on a huge number of transactions that are required to be submitted by Law. I would love to know on what Freightos figures are based.

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