CONTAINER lines are growing increasingly upbeat as a feared rates collapse in the North & East Asia-Australia has failed to eventuate.

As outlined in the annual review of the trade published in the April edition of the DCN magazine, carriers were unsure whether offers in the market of as low as US$650/TEU ex key Chinese ports heralded the kind of downturn that blighted their P&L in 2023.

There had been a steady decline from early February’s CCFI average of around $1050/TEU to about $775/TEU, while the SCFI showed a more substantial drop from $1050/TEU to $725/TEU late March/early April.

Line executives were unsure whether there was a genuine, traditional downturn in demand post Chinese New Year or the market was normalising after the prolonged DP World/MUA dispute took as much as 40% of capacity out of the trade in some weeks November/December/January, artificially propping up rates.

However, with April, May and beyond bookings looking solid after all, carriers took the opportunity to arrest any further slide by introducing GRIs of between US$200 and $500/TEU from 1 April and these have reportedly been successful, at least from mid-month.

The second half of April has seen rates holding between $850 and $950, with ships now said to be full through to at least the end of May, to the extent some extra-loaders have been scheduled.

ANL announced a 15 April increase of US$250/TEU and $500/FEU for dry and reefer for all shipments from N&EA to East Coast Australia. Simultaneously an increase of $US150/TEU, $300/FEU was applied to the N&EA-NZ route.

Last week the line advised of ECA increases of US$300/600, applicable from 1 May from N&EA, and NZ increases of US$100/200 on the same date.

Yesterday there was a further announcement, this time again of $US300/600 for ECA, and US$200/400 for NZ, applicable from 15 May.

“Our expectation is that rates will continue to climb,” one carrier commented, “as long as no-one gets greedy and puts in additional capacity.”