In Focus: Another update on the Red Sea

Happy New Year to our readers of our Weekly Market Update.

With our first edition of our market update, we start the year off with more updates on the situation in the Red Sea. 

After the Maersk Hangzhou was targeted by the Houthi militants last Sunday, Maersk announced that they have suspended sailings near or via the Suez Canal. 

As reported last week, MSC and several Asian carriers have opted to reroute their entire fleet through the Cape of Good Hope, and Maersk has now followed suit. Notably, CMA CGM and COSCO are the only carriers that are still transiting via the Suez Canal. However, the attack on the CMA CGM Tage on 3rd January may cause CMA CGM to reconsider its position. 

Space has become extremely tight so we advise you to speak to your freight forwarder or partner if you have any questions on how this impacts your supply chain. If you are a Zencargo customer please do not hesitate to contact your account manager.



Central China to USA and Europe 

  • From SHA to Europe and the US, the market has been busy since the weekend. 
    • Rates will be increasing and space may be fully booked. 
    • To secure space, we recommend making bookings earlier.
  • From NGB to Europe and the USA, the market is stable and rates remain the same as last week. 
    • We suggest booking space 4-5 days prior to the cargo ready date.

North China to USA and Europe:

  • From TSN to Europe and the US, rates remain at a low level for Korean Airlines to both destinations.
    • Space is available on this airline to both destinations this week. 
  • From PEK to Europe and the US, rates with most airlines remain at a lower level this week
    • Major services from PEK to Europe include: Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Air China, KLM, Air France, Japan Airlines.
      • It is advised to book space 3-4 days ahead of the cargo ready date. 
    • Major services from PEK to the US include: Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Eva Air with rates remaining at a lower level this week. 
      • It is advised to book space 5-6 days ahead of the cargo ready date. 
  • From TAO to Europe and the US,  space is available and rates have decreased this week. 
    • From TAO to the US, ETD is 3-4 days after booking. 
    • Spot rates are available for dense cargo. 

South China to USA and Europe:

  • From CAN to Europe and the USA, there have been no major changes in terms of space or rates.
    • 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, the market is stable this week. 
    • All shipments will need to be checked with the carrier for rates on a case-by-case basis.
  • From XMN to Europe and the US, the market remains the same.
    • Final rates depend on a case-by-case basis.


  • The Port of Houston managed nearly 3.5 million TEUs throughout November 2023. 
    • This was a 5% decrease compared to record volumes in 2022. 
    • Loaded export TEUs for November experienced a 2% decline compared to 2022. However, the overall export performance for 2023 saw an increase of 9% compared to the previous year at 1,268,034 TEUs.
    • The demand for Houston’s exports include the region’s production of resins and petrochemical commodities. 
    • Loaded Imports on the other hand saw a 16% decrease for the month in November and 8% decrease compared to the previous year at 137, 631 TEUs. 
  • The Panama Canal is facing water levels 1.8 metres below normal.
    • The Canal authority has initially capped the number of vessels that can cross but this has eased slightly due to a rainier month in November. 
    • Currently, only 24 ships a day can pass, significantly lower than the pre-drought capacity of approximately 38 ships per day.
    • With the dry season intensifying, the bottleneck is expected to worsen in the near future.
    • Surcharges in Transpacific trade have increased by over $1000 compared to the second half of December. 
  • The impact of the Suez Canal disruption has extended to the Panama Canal, causing further backlogs.
    • The rerouting of shipments, for example, China to New York which typically passes through Panama, is now forced to take alternative routes such as Suez or the Cape of Good Hope. 
    • However, due to the disruption in the Red Sea, ships are having to pass through the Cape of Good Hope instead, increasing transit times and creating backlogs. 
    • The return of empties from the EU to the US West Coast, usually through the Panama route via the Atlantic, is likely to shift to the Cape of Good Hope route.


  • The Port of Rotterdam has projected a 1.25 million-tonne decline in throughput volume in December 2023 and predicts that they will be minimally impacted by the Red Sea disruptions.
    • The Port of Rotterdam Authority predicts a decline of about 65,000 TEU, equivalent to roughly 0.65 million tonnes, in container throughput during the final two weeks of December.
    • The potential impact on liquid bulk transshipment, involving oil, oil products, and palm oil, is evaluated by the Port of Rotterdam Authority to be a maximum of 0.5 million tonnes.
    • While approximately 2.4 million tonnes of Rotterdam’s liquid bulk typically pass through the Suez Canal each month, not all bulk carriers have chosen to reroute.
    • Monthly, around 0.5 million tonnes of dry bulk, including commodities like coal and iron ore, are transported through the Suez Canal to reach Rotterdam.
    • The Port of Rotterdam Authority expects a maximum impact of about 0.1 million tonnes on this specific category of cargo.


  • The UK government has announced an ambitious target to grow rail freight by at least 75% by 2050. 
    • The government believes that growing the rail freight industry will help boost economic growth and support supply chains whilst also providing more high-skilled jobs. 
    • According to the government, this is also expected to play a role in lowering CO2 emissions by alleviating road congestion through the reduction of lorry traffic.

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.


Jan 6 – Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany*, Greece, Italy, Poland, romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden

Jan 7 – Romania

Jan 24 – Romania

Feb 5 – Ireland (Eire)

Feb 8 – Slovenia

Feb 10 – Malta

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 

*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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