I was hoping that I would be the bearer of some good news for a change. However, with the shortage of 40ft High Cubes and 40ft container in some origins, just when we hoped that we could see the upward trend in rate decline, this has forced the market upwards again.
Rumours were that the Chinese government had put a cap on the allowed “freight” rates to be charged by shipping lines, but this seems to have been very quickly circumnavigated by the shipping lines by the introductions of surcharges such as peak season, and MSC, as of the 15th August will implement the first “SDS” (Service Disruption Surcharge) of US$1000.00 per 20ft payable at destination.
Coupled with increasing freight rates, due to the demand for drivers in the UK, most shipping lines are now also increasing their delivery prices along with their very own surcharge of “Driver Retention Fee” of up to £100.00 per delivery, which apparently goes directly to the driver as an incentive to continue their employment with the shipping lines.
Felixstowe Port is hugely congested, and delivery bookings are now needed to be made some 2 to 3 weeks in advance due to a lack of drivers. The shipping lines are doing very little to help and continue to charge rent and demurrage on containers whilst they are the ones that are unable to offer a delivery solution. On request to one shipping line, they would not even waive rent, demurrage or the “lo/lo” fee to take containers out of their system to allow commercial haulage to be used.
All and all, the shipping lines in the main are tightening the screw on everyone with very little regard to importers, they are making a bad situation a lot worse. I have been asking all shipping lines, “when will it end” and all replies are the same, that they simply do not know.
On some positive news, a US company is now suing “Collusive” Ocean Carriers, alleging “Price Manipulation” after the two ocean carriers reneged on their contract for imports from Asia. They filed their suit in early August and the whole world now holds its breath to see if successful. It is believed that if successful, it will encourage similar action from around the world and put pressure on governments to act. With rates increasing an unprecedented 800% from August 2020 to August 2021.