Shipping market will stay dysfunctional well into the year, says Ti


Ti Insight has published its Ocean Freight Rate Tracker for Q1 2022, analysing the market’s evolution using a range of industry data sources as well as its own exclusive survey. After a traumatic year for the industry in 2021, its authors call the market ‘dysfunctional’ and claim that it will stay that way well into the year.

The results of Ti’s survey reveal that industry professionals expect an increase in rates over the coming months. Over 60% of respondents replied that they expected prices to ‘increase significantly’ on all three major lanes – Asia-North America; Asia-Europe and Europe-US. Since November 2021, participants have been most anxious about price increases on routes from Asia to the US West Coast although there is slightly more optimism about transatlantic rates.

The free-to-download Tracker also includes a review of other industry data. Some of the headline figures include:

  • The Ti Global Ocean Freight Rates Index shows that head haul rates are now over 5.5 times the February 2021 level (Ti Global Ocean Freight Rate Index)
  • Headhaul rates on lanes from China/East Asia to the US West Coast were over $15,000 per FEU at the end of February, up 175% year-on-year. Rates on the backhaul are up 30.2% year-on-year (Freightos).
  • North American West Coast congestion was the highest of all regions tracked at the start of 2022, with high import volumes from Asia leading to ongoing queues. Congestion remains high (waiting times were on average 17 days in mid-February) and may rise again once volumes begin to pick up after the Chinese Lunar New Year (Gocomet).
  • In February 2022, headhaul rates on the China/East Asia – Europe Lane reached $14,728 per FEU, up 79% year-on-year (Freightos).
  • Based on available European port data for Q4-21, volumes are five index points above Q3-21 and up six points year-on-year, showing an upward trajectory, post-Covid (Ti’s European Port Index).
  • Capacity has risen steadily in the first months of 2022 on China/East Asia to Europe routes. Although capacity has not risen to the same extent as on the transpacific lane, there has been a 3.2% increase since the start of Q4-21 (Alphaliner).
  • Impact of Covid disruption expected to decline Q2 2022 (Ti’s Global Ocean Freight Rate Outlook)

While the direct risks of further pandemic-related disruptions appear to be receding in Europe and North America, global vaccine rollouts and the lifting of social and economic restrictions remain uneven. Significantly, Covid-related restrictions cause regular disruptions at Chinese ports and in hinterland operations in Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen and Tianjin. Within an already stretched global system, dysfunction looks set to remain the defining characteristic of the global ocean freight market well into the year.

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