Peak season transpacific rates 25% off last year’s numbers

Transpacific box rates to the US West Coast are 25% below where they were this time last year, according to the latest data from the Freightos Baltic Index, suggesting the trade war has holed the peak season below the water. As of yesterday China-US West Coast prices stood at $1,548 per feu.

“While carriers implemented a whopping 30% GRI last August, this year they stuck with a lacklustre $100-$250 GRI price range, and even those haven’t fully taken. While prices are 4% up on last week, they remain flat compared to July and an impressive 25% under last year’s rates,” online platform Freightos noted in a weekly commentary.

China-US East Coast prices meanwhile stood at $2,822 per feu as of yesterday, down about 6% from last week. Carrier GRIs in the $150-$300 price range didn’t take and are 13% behind last year’s rates.

“Both transpacific lanes have suddenly fallen well behind 2018 prices. Last year provides an interesting comparison, where August saw major peak season increases, bolstered by trade panic sparked by tariffs,” commented Eytan Buchman, CMO at Freightos.

“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,” Buchman added.

UK consultants Drewry said in a report this week that as much as 4m teu of China-US trade could be hit by President Donald Trump’s latest tariff threats.

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.
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