THE Drewry Container Rate Benchmark for shipping containers from China to the US west coast jumped 21.5 per cent in the week ended August 15 as member lines of the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) implemented long-postponed peak season surcharges.
The benchmark for the average spot price for shipping an FEU from Hong Kong to Los Angeles rose to US$1,853/FEU from $1,525 in the previous week following several weeks of flat or sagging rates on major east-west shipping lanes.
The TSA originally published a voluntary guideline calling for a peak-season surcharge of $400 per FEU that was supposed to run from June 15 through November 30, but postponed implementation for at least a month.
After what turned out to be a two-month delay, the TSA announced the new August 15 implementation date on August 3, saying its members were seeing "positive indications of a peak season on the horizon, as retailers begin restocking shelves for the back-to-school and holiday seasons and as businesses resume global sourcing of materials and components".
Despite the hefty increase on August 15, the benchmark rate was still 32.3 per cent lower than the $2,737 per FEU rate in the same week last year, when transpacific vessel capacity was in short supply and demand was strong, reports Newark's Journal of Commerce. The rate is also 12.6 per cent below the $2,119 per FEU high for 2011 in early January.
The delivery of new containerships this year and relatively weak increases in demand for shipping space has eroded rates on the transpacific and Asia-Europe trades, which in turn caused losses to many leading container lines in the first half of the year.
The August increase was the first significant hike in transpacific spot rate this year since the 8.9 per cent increase to $1,953 per FEU in the week ended May 1, when some contract rates kicked in under annual contracts and average spot rates followed.