US containerised imports from Asia have
seen some increased activity at the start of the year but it pales in
comparison to years previously.
FreightWaves Maritime market expert
Henry Byers opined: "The continued tariff threats from the Trump
administration, coupled with an earlier-than-normal Chinese New Year,
which officially begins January 25, has likely led many US importers to
move much of their volume in 2019.
"This means that US container ports are not likely to receive the typical bump in volumes they're used to."
If pricing is a rough proxy for demand, Freightos' trans-Pacific indices
covering the late 2019-early 2020 period should not rise as much as in
prior years, American Shipper reported.
A year ago, the index tracking container shipments from China to North
American west coast ports such as Los Angeles/Long Beach grew by 26 per
cent between January 1 and January 6 2019. Two years ago, rates
increased 25 per cent between December 29 2017 and January 2 2018. In
contrast, rates have gone up by four per cent between January 1 and
January 6 2020.
The same pattern prevails with the index tracking prices from China via
the Panama Canal to US east coast ports such as New York/New Jersey. A
year ago, this index increased by 22 per cent between January 1 and
January 6 2019; two years ago, by 32 per cent between December 18 2017,
and January 2 2018; and this year, by six per cent between January 1 and
January 6 2020.
According to Freightos chief marketing officer Eytan Buchman: "Chinese New Year is spurring
demand, but not like in past years. The final run-up [to the holiday],
combined with carriers' concerns of recouping some of their IMO 2020
fuel costs, has pushed rates up. But 2019's story of the year - the
trade war - continues in 2020 and has dampened pre-Chinese New Year
demand as well."