Is rate erosion easing?

Whether container spot rates have levelled off is still up for debate but analysis on the Transpacific and Asia – Europe trade lanes reveals rate erosion is beginning to ease. 

As the drop in rates is starting to bottom out, what does this mean for shippers?

A recent survey by Flexport has found that a third of Transpacific shippers had no plans to sign fixed contracts this year. This suggests that more shippers may be leaning towards the spot market a little more than usual. 

BCOs will need to make some decisions on what percentage of their volumes they are prepared to commit to carriers.

And how have ocean carriers reacted?

Ocean carriers have taken action to restructure their networks such as suspending the AE1/Shogun Asia-North Europe loop by the 2M Alliance, after blanking the service for consecutive weeks.

Industry experts have suggested signing contracts with carriers because if spot rates are too low, when capacity becomes tight again, these containers will be the last to be loaded. 

We understand that there’s been uncertainty around rates given this volatile and unpredictable period. 

Therefore, we’re offering 1:1 bespoke rate consultations to help you diversify and adapt your rate strategy. To book, please click this link




  • After weeks of blanking the AE1/Shogun Asia-North Europe loop, the 2M Alliance have suspended this service.
    • The AE1/Shogun loop deployed twelve 13,000  to 20,500 TEU vessels calling at Ningbo, Xiamen, Yantian, Tanjung Pelepas, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Tanger Med, Salalah, Hong Kong and then back to Ningbo.
    • 2M’s decision to suspend the service instead of blanking each voyage may be welcomed by shippers who have found it difficult to adapt their strategies to the consistent blank sailings. 


Central China to USA and Europe 

  • Space from SHA to Europe and the US is quite tight this week so rates have increased. 
  • From NGB to EU and the US, rates have increased this week.
  • Please check the final rates on a case-by-case basis.

North China to USA and Europe 

  • From TSN to Europe and the US,  rates are fluctuating this week. 
    • Space is limited so please book 4-5 days in advance from TSN to Europe. 
      • The main services on this lane include Air China, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. 
      • Korean Air and Asiana Airlines can provide freight flights that can offer an earlier estimated time of departure and arrival. 
    • Space is also limited from TSN to the US. For better rates, please book 6-7 days in advance. 
      • Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Cathay Pacific are the main services on this lane. 
      • Korean Air and Asiana Airlines can provide freight flights that can offer an earlier estimated time of departure and arrival. 
  • From PEK to Europe, rates are fluctuating and space is limited. For better rates, please book for 4-5 days in advance. 
    • Special rates can be applied to heavy dense cargo. Please check on a case-by-case basis. 
  • From PEK to the US, rates are fluctuating this week and space is limited. For better rates please book 6-7 days ahead in advance. 
    • Service is restricted and some carriers have taken on less volume. Some carriers have even cancelled or rescheduled their flights. 
    • Estimated flight schedule can not be confirmed as a result. 

South China to USA and Europe 

  • From  CAN to Europe and the USA rates have stayed the same this week. 
  • From SZX to Europe space is quite tight and rates will need to be checked with carriers on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Rates have increased from XMN to Europe but rates are stable to LHR. 
  • Final rates from XMN to the US depend on a case-by- case basis so please check with your carrier.




  • US container imports in February experienced a severe drop in volumes compared to the previous year. 
    • According to McCown, import throughput fell by 28% to 1,454,438 TEU, the lowest level since March 2020.
    • US West Coast ports suffered in particular with a 37% drop. 
    • US East and Gulf Coast ports declined by 18.7% to 809,375TEU.
    • However, the Port of Houston recorded an increase of 12.7% year-on-year to 131,946 TEU. 


  • An update from Hapag-Lloyd on the ports in Europe include:
    • At the PSA terminal at Antwerp, yard utilisation at 913 is between 70-75%. 
      • At 869, the yard is at an operational level of 50-55% with reduced capacity due to ongoing construction work
        • Due to pier works at 869, the berth capacity has been reduced by 400 metres.
      • The empty storage area on both terminals is between 50-75%. 
    • At the AGW terminal, yard level is at 65-70%. Reefer plug capacity is between 60-65% and empty storage is at 80-85%. 
      • The terminal is operating well with sufficient labour availability. 
    • At the ECT terminals in Rotterdam, yard utilisation is at 60-65% and reefer plug utilisation is at 70-75%. 
      • Labour is at a good level and strong winds at the beginning of this week has led to minimal operational delays. 
    • At the RWG terminal, yard levels are averaging between 60-65% and reefer plug utilisation is between 50-55%.  
      • Import dwell times are decreasing and the terminal is at a good operational level. 


  • In France, terminals are closed for 72 hours from 21st March to 24th March due to industrial action. 
    • Gate in and gate out operations are limited. 
    • Terminal restrictions are in place with short time windows to gate in containers. 
    • Reduced trucking services are to be expected therefore rail and barge are recommended to transport containers to and from sea terminals.


  • The Transport Select Committee has published a report on the UK Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy.
    • According to the report, the UK’s maritime sector needs better treatment of workers and investment in new technology. 
    • The committee has announced that there is a need for ‘great clarity’ about how the Government envisages the UK being a leader in zero emission shipping. 
    • This includes a defined plan for decarbonisation with clear and measurable targets for the maritime sector. 


  • Members of the RMT union have voted to accept a pay offer from Network Rail. 
    • Thousands of rail workers have voted by three to one in favour to accept the offer which is a 9% pay increase over two years. 
    • The result may see the end of disruption as industrial action may cease. 
    • However, RMT members at 14 train operators are still ready to strike on two days between 30th March to 1st April and drivers in the Aslef union have not yet settled their dispute. 

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.

March 20 – Spain*

March 25 – Cyprus, Greece

March 31 – Malta 

April 1 – Cyprus

April 6 – Denmark, Portugal*, Spain

April 7 – Austria*, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France*, Germany, Hungary, Ireland (Eire)*, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands*, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden. 

April 8 – Sweden*

April 9 – Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Fermand*, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden

April 10 – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland (Eire)*, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta*, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain*, Sweden. 

April 14 – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania

April 15 – Bulgaria, Cyprus*

April 16 – Bulgaria, Cyprus*, Greece, Romania

April 17 – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania

April 18 – Cyprus*

April 21 – Spain*

April 22 – Spain*

April 24 – Spain*

April 25 – Italy, Portugal

April 27 – Netherlands, Slovenia

*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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