Still-surging US demand for Chinese imports saw Asia-US West Coast ocean rates climb more than 5% again this week, at a time when demand for ocean freight (and spot rates) normally level off and begin to decrease in the weeks after Chinese New Year (see chart below).
- China-US West Coast prices (FBX01 Daily) increased 5% to $4,922/FEU. This rate is 259% higher than the same time last year.
- China-US East Coast prices (FBX03 Daily) climbed 3% to $5,822/FEU, and are 119% higher than rates for this week last year.
US demand for ocean freight imports continues to keep the crucial ports of LA and Long Beach overwhelmed. The port’s Executive Director Gene Seroka estimates that it would take a month to clear just the tens of ships already anchored and waiting in the bay. With on-time arrival rates plunging and the Federal Maritime Commission intervening to try and reduce congestion-related charges, Seroka advised shippers and carriers to divert to other West Coast ports.
This non-stop demand is also pushing ocean rates to the US up at a time when they would normally be starting to fall.
Rates typically climb ahead of Chinese New Year (CNY), stay elevated over the holiday, and then gradually decrease as China’s manufacturing comes back online and the backlog is cleared in the weeks after the break.
Now, nearly a week after CNY, rates from Asia to Europe have begun to decline slightly. But prices from Asia to the US West Coast climbed 5% this week as still-surging demand and many factories that stayed open over the holiday have kept volumes coming.