The amount it costs to ship containers from China to ports around the world has plunged to historic lows. As container carriers are sinking deeper into trouble, whipped by lackluster global demand and rampant oversupply of container ships, they’re escalating a brutal price war with absurd consequences.
Maritime research and advisory firm Drewry (emphasis mine):
Recent news stories, backed up by anecdotal stories told to Drewry, report that carriers have quoted zero dollar freight rates to some forwarders on certain lanes out of Asia. Whether these are merely isolated cases or something more widespread is difficult to judge at the present time, but whatever the exact quantum, there is no denying the container rates are now close to the historic lows as seen in 2009.
The World Container Index, an average of spot freight rates on 11 global East-West routes connecting Asia, Europe, and the US, plunged last week to a record low of $666 per 40-foot equivalent unit container (FEU), down 73% from mid-2012!
The China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI) tells a similar story. It tracks contractual and spot-market rates for shipping containers from major ports in China to 14 regions around the world. On Friday, the index dropped 1.6% to 659.19, its lowest level ever!
It has plunged 39% from February last year and 34% since its inception in 1998 when it was set at 1,000: