European and US Ports Experience H1 2023 Declines

In the first half of 2023, major container ports in both Europe and the United States experienced significant declines in throughput, ranging from 5% to 25%. The ports affected included Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, Savannah, Rotterdam, Antwerp-Bruges, and Hamburg. 

These declines were largely attributed to the economic contraction occurring in Western countries. Los Angeles/Long Beach, for instance, witnessed a 25% volume drop, with a net loss of 2.6 million TEUs compared to the same period in 2022. The recent signing of a new labour agreement for US West Coast dockworkers may help this port regain some of its lost business to east coast ports. Meanwhile, US East Coast ports like New York/New Jersey and Savannah also reported significant declines of 24% and 18%, respectively.



  • Container spot indices show declining short-term freight rates across major tradelanes.
    • Sailings from Asia are being cancelled abruptly due to weakening demand before China’s Golden Week holiday in October.
    • Carriers on the transatlantic route are delaying sailings into the following week to improve vessel load factors.
    • Shipping lines are reducing capacity to balance supply and demand but this has caused disruption in supply chains. 
    • Some 20 scheduled sailings from China to Europe have already been withdrawn around Golden Week by the three shipping alliances.


Central China to USA and Europe 

  • From SHA to Europe and the US, rates are increasing this week. 
    • Because of the Asia games, security will be closed in CGO, WUH, EHU and PVG for oversized cargo. 
    • The air space to the EU has been impacted due to the Cargolux’s strike. 
    • Space from Shanghai to AMS/FRA is stable. 
    • Space to JFK is tight due to great demand of courier cargo. 
  • From NGB to Europe and the US, rates have increased this week 
    • The final rate is offered on a case-by-case basis.

North China to USA and Europe:

  • From TSN to Europe and the US, Korean Airlines’ service is normal and space will resume to normal at origin.
    • Rates for Asiana flights have increased on these lanes. 
  • From PEK to Europe and the US, hot weather is currently causing loading issues. 
    • Major services from PEK to Europe include: Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Air China, KLM, Air France, Japan Airlines.
    • Major services from PEK to the US include: Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Eva Air. 
  • From TAO to Europe and the US, space has become quite tight. 
    • Rates have remained the same on both lanes. 

South China to USA and Europe:

  • From CAN to Europe and the US, the market is in peak season so space is very tight. 
    • All shipments will need to be checked with the carrier for rates on a case-by-case basis.
  • From SZX to Europe and the US, rates have increased and space is tight. 
    • All shipments will need to be checked with the carrier for rates on a case-by-case basis.
  • From XMN to Europe, the market is busy this week and space is short but rates remain stable.
    • To the US, rates remain almost the same as last week but space is still quite tight due to disruptions caused by a typhoon. 


  • According to Sea-Intelligence, in the US, wholesalers’ inventories are decreasing, while retailers’ inventories are increasing, and manufacturers’ inventories are relatively stable. The data for July 2023 from the US Census Bureau indicates these trends.
    • Overall, the total magnitude of US inventories has remained relatively constant since the beginning of 2023, indicating no significant inventory correction.
    • When examining inventories across three categories defined by the US Census Bureau (Manufacturers, Retailers, and Wholesalers), distinct trends emerge:
      • Retailers are consistently increasing their inventories.
      • Wholesalers are experiencing a decrease in inventories.
      • Manufacturers’ inventories remain at a similar level.
  • The balance between increasing retailer inventories and decreasing wholesaler inventories might suggest that wholesalers are effectively managing their inventory, potentially leading to a decline in retailer imports.
  • In contrast, both wholesalers and manufacturers currently maintain inventory levels significantly higher than pre-pandemic trends would have suggested.
  • These observations suggest that the US has not undergone a genuine inventory correction, and the market may be due for a substantial contraction, particularly for wholesalers and manufacturers.


  • Here are some recent port updates from Hapag-Lloyd:
    • Antwerp, Belgium:
      • At PSA 913, yard utilisation remains unchanged at 60-65%, while reefers remain at 70-75%, and MTs remain at a low level of 30-35%.
      • At PSA 769, yard utilisation has dropped to 50-55%, reefers are at 35-40%, and MTs are at 55-60% utilisation.
      • At AGW, yard utilisation stands at 50-55%, reefer plugs are at 35-40% utilisation, and MTs are between 50-55%. The terminal is set to receive three additional gantries, which will be fully operational in September.
    • Rotterdam, Netherlands:
      • At the Europe Container terminals, yard utilisation has increased slightly to 55-60%. There are sufficient reefer plugs for the current demand. Equipment reliability was stressed due to the recent high temperatures, but this is recovering.
      • At the Rotterdam World Gateway, yard utilisation is stable at 60-65%, and reefer plug utilisation is at a sufficient capacity of 50-55%. Labour is slightly reduced this week, but the terminal continues with good productivity with no operational issues.


  • Over 1,300 trainees in the government-funded HGV Skills Bootcamps scheme have passed their practical tests since April, addressing the UK’s lorry driver shortage.
    • Data from the Driver Academy Group consortium reveals that more than 800 of these trainees securing their practical test have had interviews and are either employed or have job offers by September.
    • The Skills Bootcamps have trained approximately 2,000 drivers under the scheme since April, with nearly 1,700 passing their theory tests.
    • The original goal of the £34 million scheme launched in 2021 was to bring around 11,000 HGV drivers into the industry.
    • Nearly 650 drivers are already employed by various employers, including logistics, retail, and supply chain companies, with 150 more expecting to join them by September.

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.


Sep 18 – Switzerland*

Sep 20 – Germany*

Sep 21 – Malta

Sep 22 – Bulgaria

Sep 24 – Austria*

Sep 25 – Switzerland*

Sep 27 – Belgium*, North Cyprus

Sep 28 – Czech Republic

Oct 1 – Cyprus, San Marino

Oct 3 – Germany

Oct 5 – Portugal

Oct 9 – Spain*

Oct 10 – Austria*

Oct 12 – Spain

Oct 23 – Hungary

Oct 26 – Austria

Oct 28 – Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece

Oct 30 – Ireland (Eire)

Oct 31 – Germany*, Slovenia

Nov 1 – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany*, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

Nov 2 – Belgium*, Lithuania

Nov 4 – Finland, Sweden

Nov 9 – Spain*

Nov 11 – Austria*, Belgium, France, Poland

Nov 15 – Austria*, Belgium*

Nov 17 Friday Czech Republic, Slovakia

Nov 18 – Croatia, Latvia

Nov 20 – Latvia

Nov 22 – Germany*

Nov 30 – Romania

*Not in all regions

The route ahead

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