TO secure equipment and space on a carrier to North Europe from China, major forwarders on the mainland are engaged in fierce bidding wars, reports The Loadstar, UK.
Several carriers are reported to have opened first- and second-round tenders with the highest bidders for guaranteed shipment this month.
According to Chinese forwarder contacts, carriers are inviting offers for available slots on end-January sailings from Shanghai, Ningbo, Qingdao and Yantian, with all-in bids below US$16,000 per FEU H/C for the UK and $10,500 for Rotterdam, Antwerp and Le Havre unlikely to be successful.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI), which does not include additional premium fees to guarantee equipment and space, saw its North Europe component in the week ending last Friday gaining a further nine per cent, to $4,452 per TEU, an astonishing 344 per cent higher than for the same week of last year.
For Mediterranean ports, spot rates were stable at $4,298 per TEU, but remain 265 per cent higher than a year ago.
Most forwarding contacts The Loadstar spoke to said they expected rates from Asia to Europe to fall after the China's new year (CNY) holiday, which begins on February 12, especially as carriers have, so far, this year untypically blanked very few sailings. However, nobody is predicting a crash.
One UK source said he expected rates would fall "a bit below $10,000" for a FEU after CNY, but did not think the market would see "below $6,000 all 2021".
Moreover, shippers hoping to secure much cheaper deals for annual contracts are in for a shock, in terms of the new deals that will be offered by their carriers, which are at present unsurprisingly reluctant to even open negotiations.
Noting that the China Containerised Freight Index, tracking contract rates, is currently up 89 per cent on last year, SeaIntelligence's Lars Jensen suggested that annual contract rates were no longer immune from big spot rate spikes.
"We are now in an environment where there is substantial and increasing upward pressure on contract rates as well," he said.
Elsewhere, on the transpacific, the US west and east coast components of the SCFI were stable after last week's decline, with spot rates from Asia to the west coast at $4,019 per FEU and to east coast ports at $4,750 per FEU.