Whether it’s due to Brexit fears or maybe just a lack of business confidence, freight volumes from China and the Far East are in the doldrums. The consortiums of shipping lines have tried to push rates up by restricting capacity so in the process 115000 TEU (20ft equivalent units) of container slots have been removed from circulation by cancelling sailings and either mooring up ships or slower steaming.
This has had the effect of some erratic scheduling as services have been combined with lots of containers being transferred from one ship to another on route. Despite this, the effect on fright rates has been minimal with typically a $ 50 per TEU increase on what are historically low rates scheduled for May 2019.
Overall volume growth is still expected to be 2-2.5% for the rest of the year, though this prediction now seems optimistic.
These market conditions, good for importers, bad for shipping lines are also being reflected in airfreight rates reducing year one year from Hong Kong, China and the Far East.