Key insights:

  1. Ocean rates globally went unchanged this week, with initial signs of progress in clearing container yard bottlenecks in LA/Long Beach.
  2. Some rail service to Vancouver was reportedly restored after damage from last week’s storm cut the city and its port off from the rest of Canada. The Freightos Air Index shows that rates from Frankfurt to Vancouver increased sharply last week to $6.36/kg, a 25% increase from the start of the month, possibly due to a reduction in capacity from cancelled flights.

Asia-US rates:

  • Asia-US West Coast prices (FBX01 Daily) increased 1% to $14,677/FEU. This rate is 278% higher than the same time last year.
  • Asia-US East Coast prices (FBX03 Daily) also climbed 1% to $16,633/FEU, and are 250% higher than rates for this week last year.

  • Analysis

Ocean rates stayed stable across all major lanes this week. And just as signs of improvement have started to show in LA/Long Beach, a new crisis has hit another North American port. A severe storm brought flooding and mudslides to Vancouver last week, significantly damaging roads and rail lines and essentially cutting off the city’s – as well as its port’s – access to and from the rest of the country.

Though some rail service is expected to be restored this week, the disruption has created a backlog of about 40 ships waiting to dock. Flight cancellations may have put pressure on air cargo rates too. The Freightos Air Index shows that rates from Frankfurt to Vancouver increased sharply last week to $6.36/kg, a 25% increase from the start of the month. Air Canada is adding cargo capacity across the country to service shipments that could not get out due to the storm and its aftermath.

Meanwhile, the congestion in LA/Long Beach has started to ease: combined, the ports are reporting a 32% reduction in the number of long-dwelling (more than 9 days) containers in their yards, and have had multiple “sweeper” ships arrive to help remove the surplus of empty containers also clogging the ports. The improvement was enough to convince the ports to postpone the new fee it has announced for long-dwelling containers for another week.

Another possible sign of progress is a decrease in the number of ships waiting at anchor for a berth, which has fallen from 80+ ships recently to about 60 this week. More space in the yard means ships can be unloaded more quickly, and could be contributing to the shortened line. But the reduction is likely also due to vessels staying in holding patterns further offshore to reduce emissions in the bay.