Trans-Pacific shipping rates just popped to new all-time high
December 30, 2020
(American Shipper) Is this the end of the mysterious trans-Pacific rate plateau? The good news for ocean carriers — and bad news for shippers — is that rates are rising yet again.
Base spot rates for container shipments from Asia to the U.S. West Coast had been curiously flat since late September. Rates kept to a narrow band at record-high levels of around $3,800-$3,900 per forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU).
The unnatural flatness of the rate trend line during a period when demand was not flat led to speculation that the trans-Pacific rate level was, in fact, not natural.
One theory is that liners declined to charge higher base spot rates after a meeting with Chinese regulators in mid-September. Actual rates continued to increase when including premium charges, with the static base rate meant to assuage regulators — or so the theory goes.
Whether that speculation is true or not, something appears to have budged. Over recent days, spot rates have headed higher.
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