In Focus: An update on the Red Sea

CMA CGM has suspended vessels from transiting through the Suez Canal and is now diverting their ships via the Cape of Good Hope much like other major carriers. 

The overall ocean market is showing resilience and has quickly adapted to this new normality. Production in China has now stopped due to Chinese New Year; some carriers have backlogs to clear, whereas others seem to be searching for cargo. 

In the weeks ahead, we foresee that the conflict near the Suez Canal will not be resolved. However, carriers should be able to effectively manage and stabilise the flow of vessels and equipment via the Cape of Good Hope. We anticipate that the Transpacific trade will experience less disruption compared to other major trades.

We recommend that you work with your freight forwarder closely to minimise disruption in your supply chain.




  • From Asia to North Europe, rates for the second half of February have been decreasing across multiple carriers.
    • Long-term deal negotiations will be discussed after Chinese New Year (CNY) when carriers reassess demand patterns. 
    • Some carriers have been open to discussions, but the majority are still waiting to see how the situation looks.
    • Space should be available towards the end of the month as carriers clear the backlog from week 3.
    • Blank sailings are heavy this week and next in response to the CNY factory closures.


  • Here is the latest update on port activity in the US. 
    • Currently, the Ports of LA and Long Beach have 7 vessels waiting to berth with a 7-day dwell time at the rail heads. 
      • Vessel bunching is expected to continue. 
    • Oakland has seen a sharp rise, with 11 vessels now waiting to berth. 
    • Seattle and Tacoma have 8 vessels waiting. 
    • Moving on to the US East Coast , New York and New Jersey have 5 vessels waiting with a 4-day dwell time at the rail heads. 
    • Baltimore currently has 14 vessels waiting. 
    • Norfolk has improved, with 6 vessels waiting, but vessel bunching is expected to continue. 
    • Finally, Savannah has 4 vessels waiting with a 3-day dwell time at the rail heads.


  • US container import volumes increased by 7.9% in January 2024 from December 2023, marking the largest month-over-month growth for January in the last seven years. 
    • This is fuelled by a 14.9% rise in imports from China, with the ports of LA and Long Beach picking up most of the volume. 
    • When comparing the top five West Coast ports with the top five East and Gulf Coast ports from January 2024 to December 2023,  the share of total import container volume rose to 43.0% for the top West Coast ports, marking a 3.3% increase. 
    • Conversely, the share for the top East and Gulf Coast ports declined to 42.4%, representing a decrease of 2.5%.
    • Additionally, when considering all top 10 ports collectively, their combined share increased to 85.4% in January 2024, showing a slight uptick of 0.9% compared to December 2023.
    • January port transit delays increased overall, especially at East Coast ports.
    • The water levels in the Panama Canal as well as the Middle East conflict has impacted transit times, but not necessarily import volumes.




Here is an update from Hapag-Lloyd on ports in the Benelux region:

  • Antwerp, Belgium
    • PSA 913: Operational challenges have occurred due to a  ship-caused accident that has led to the collapse of a crane. 
      • The terminal has since returned to normal operations; however, salvage operations for the collapsed crane are expected to be completed in February. 
      • Yard utilisation stands at 85% to 90%, with reefers and empty containers ranging from 60% to 65%.
    • PSA 869: Yard utilisation is at 60% to 65%, with reefers at 40% to 45%, and empty containers at 60% to 65% utilisation.
      •  Civil works at PSA 869, resulting in approximately a 400-metre reduction of berth space, have commenced. 
      • This reduction is allowing one large vessel alongside at times, and focusing the cranes on one vessel has boosted productivity. There have been no negative impacts on operations.
    • AGW: Antwerp Gateways yard is currently operating at 45% to 50% capacity, with reefer plugs at 40% to 45% utilisation, and the empty container yard at 60% to 65% capacity.
      • All terminals in Antwerp faced operational challenges earlier in the month due to farmers’ strikes blocking entry roads to the terminals. 
      • However, the strike has concluded, and no further impacts on operations are expected for this week.
  • Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    • ECT: Yard utilisation is at 80% to 85%. 
      • There’s a forecast of yard utilisation with a strong dropping trend, expected to return to 65% to 70% and the berthing line-up has open space.
      • Operational challenges were experienced at the beginning of last week due to strong winds.
    • RWG: Yard utilisation is at 80% to 85%, with reefer plug utilisation at 50% to 55%  and the berth line-up is high.
      • The temporary stop of empty container operations was lifted again at the beginning of the week as the yard is recovering.
      • Operational challenges were experienced at the beginning of the week due to strong winds.
United Kingdom


  • According to data from TEG Road Transport Price Index, haulier and courier rates dropped significantly in January from December.
    • The overall price per mile for haulage and courier vehicles dropped from 127 to 116.2  in January. 
    • This is the lowest price per mile since March 2023 and 2.5 points lower year-on -year. 
    • Haulage prices decreased to 109.7, while courier prices fell to 122.5 points. 
    • Operators have reduced prices accordingly as fuel prices have dropped and the peak season is winding down.
    • Petrol and diesel prices dropped significantly compared to the previous year, providing some relief to operators facing tight profit margins.

European Bank Holidays

We anticipate a shortage of availability and the occurrence of delays around the bank holiday periods. Plan ahead and allow extra time for your products to be delivered.

Feb 12 – Luxembourg*

Feb 13 – Portugal*, Spain*

Feb 16 – Lithuania 

Feb 24 – Estonia

Feb 28 – Spain*

March 1 – Spain*

March 3 – Bulgaria

March 4 – Bulgaria

March 8 – Germany*

March 11 – Lithuania 

March 15 – Hungary

March 17 – Ireland (Eire)

March 18 – Cyprus, Greece, Ireland (Eire)*

March 19 – Austria*, Malta, Spain*

March 25 – Cyprus, Greece

March 28 – Denmark, Portugal*, Spain

March 29 – Austria*, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France*, Germany, Hungary, Ireland (Eire*), Latvia, Luxembourg*, Malta, Netherlands*, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden

March 30 – Sweden*

March 31 – Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany*, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden

*Not in all regions

The route ahead

The information that is available in the Weekly Market Update comes from a variety of online sources, partners and our own teams. Click below to learn more about how Zencargo can help make your supply chain your competitive advantage.

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