MARKET UPDATE – September 2022
As the China Golden Week holiday nears, the traditional peak shipping period, where many importers rush to ensure adequate inventory ahead of the year-end holiday season, does not seem to have made its arrival this year. With the uncertainty around the global economy continuing to dampen consumers’ appetite for spending, many fear the weakened demands may further complicate the carrier capacity reductions following the slowdown in China during the Golden Week holiday. In our September Market Update, we delve into the seasonal carrier blank sailings and the tumbling freight market.
Due to the seasonal, or anticipated, reduction in factory output during and after long holiday periods such as the Lunar New Year and the Golden Week holiday observed in China and various parts of Asia, international shipping lines would typically blank sailings during these periods as a means to maintain the balance between the capacity supply and demand. These blank sailings have been traditionally considered structural until the past two years, where the cancelled vessel voyages were the result of operational challenges that came along with the overflowing cargo volume. In 2022, however, the stagnant demand growth has presented carriers with the opportunity to resort back to the structural blank sailings, or to reportedly cancel more voyages than they historically would, in an attempt to stop the downward spiral in the ocean freight rates.
According to latest industry data, capacity reductions across the transpacific trade lanes are reported to be 22% to 28% in the weeks following the long holiday in China. Although this percentage is largely consistent in comparison to the previous year, carriers are canceling sailings more fiercely than the pre-pandemic years where the demand was more in line with today’s economic conditions. In pre-COVID 2019, the peak reduction following the Golden Week was 15% to 17% and 9% to 11% on average between 2014 to 2018.
In preparation for the upcoming Golden Week, our teams at Century have been working closely with your local carriers and vendors in China to secure capacity and prioritize all bookings scheduled to depart before the long holidays. While our offices in mainland China will remain closed from October 1 to 7, skeleton staff will be available to handle any urgent bookings or enquiries. As usual, please get in touch with your Century Account Manager and/or Sales Representative for further discussions on how we can help optimize your cargo movements around the seasonal peak and beyond!
NEW AT CENTURY
- Century is excited to announce our new container yard in San Bernardino California. The new inland yard occupies 12.5 acres of premium container storage space and will be operational from October 3rd, 2022. As container management is vital to ensuring smooth supply chain operations, Century provides an advanced yard management system for container pick up and warehouse delivery, enabling faster turnaround of your shipments.
- Ocean freight rates continue to experience downward pressure due to the persisting uncertainty surrounding consumer demand and a looming recession. When compared to the week 40 rates of 2021, transpacific freight rates of the same week in 2022 have fallen by 82% and 63% from Asia to the US West Coast and US East Coast respectively. According to the industry index which excludes premiums and surcharges, as of week 40, transpacific container rates from East Asia/China to USWC have fallen to $2,978/FEU, and $6,953/FEU to USEC, representing a 23% and 55% decline over the last month respectively.
- MSC has introduced the King Abdullah Port of Jeddah to their Himalaya Express service. The addition comes as a response to both market demand and MSC’s longstanding commitment to serving the Saudi market. The port will see its first Indian origin vessel on October 23rd and its first European origin vessel on October 26th. The port will handle transshipped cargo from Jeddah to export destinations via Valencia and NWC Europe hubs.
- CMA CGM announced the launch of its new MEDGULF service that commenced at the end of September 2022. The exclusive service will offer full coverage from the western Mediterranean to the Gulf of Mexico, and include ports in Italy, Spain, Morocco, Mexico and the United States. The service’s maiden voyage departed from Genoa on September 29th, and will include port of calls in Valencia, Miami, Veracruz, Altamira, Houston and Tangier. The service will be operated with a fleet of six vessels and aims to provide competitive transit times from the Adriatic, Black Sea and North Africa via Valencia, as well as improved transit times from the Indian subcontinent to Miami via Tangier.
CENTURY EXPRESS – YOUR TRUSTED NVOCC PARTNER
Century Express holds contracts with multiple ocean carriers and helps you realize schedule flexibility for your shipments. With Century Express as your NVOCC partner, you will have complete visibility of your shipments in VMS® as our NVOCC division leverages VMS® as the operating platform. We also consolidate NVOCC invoicing with your existing invoicing, keeping the number of documents issued for multiple services transparent and at a minimum. We engage with each carrier alliance and other independent carriers to ensure that we can provide choices and backup options to our customers. In addition, you can even leverage our LCL freight forwarding services to explore new sourcing opportunities in countries where you are not currently shipping to/from or have a contracted carrier. Contact your Century Representative today to learn more!
- San Pedro Bay twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will postpone the potential assessment of the “Container Dwell Fee” for four weeks until October 21st. Since the program was first introduced in October last year, the ports have seen a “combined decline of 46% in aging cargo on the docks”.
- As of week 39, there were 16 cargo vessels waiting outside of the Port of Charleston in South Carolina, with a vessel waiting time of up to 24 hours. Berth availability is at a desirable level with an average terminal utilization at 57.7%. There is a continued shortage of available chassis, resulting in extended delays in pick-ups, deliveries, and drayage to and from the rail facilities. Truck lead time is 10 days.
- In Savannah, Georgia, the vessel waiting time is 12 to 20 days due to ongoing renovations, high import volume, and extra loaders. Currently, 31 cargo vessels are waiting at port. Berth capacity is limited as the port is undergoing a two-year major reconstruction project. Current terminal capacity is at 70% utilization. Average dwell is 8.3 days for imports.
- Operations at China’s two busiest shipping ports in Shanghai and Ningbo have been fully restored in the wake of typhoon Muifa’s passing. Operations had been halted for several days whilst the east coast region braced for the intense weather conditions incoming. The average vessel berthing time in both ports has increased to three days following the 36-hour operational pause due to Typhoon Muifa. Delays are expected as the port continues to clear up the container backlog that has piled up during the closure. Currently, the estimated waiting time for vessel berthing ranges from 3-5 days at Yangshan and Waigaoqiao terminals.
- Super typhoon Noru hit Vietnam’s central coast on Wednesday, causing structural damage and power outages around Danang and Quang Nam. Windspeeds were slower than anticipated, but the heavy rain is causing concerns over potential landslides and flooding. Almost half of the country’s airports have been closed as well as the central section of highway linking Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. We are in close communication with our local team and will keep you posted of any updates.
- Further delays are anticipated at both the Port of Liverpool and Felixstowe Port in the United Kingdom as dockworkers strike over a dispute regarding annual pay increases. Unite Union members at the Port of Liverpool began their 2-week strike at 06:00am on Monday 19th September and will remain on strike until 06:00am on Monday 3rd October. Workers at the Felixstowe Port went ahead with their second 8-day strike in 6 weeks, beginning 06:59 am on Tuesday 27th September and will end at 07:00am on Wednesday 5th October. Strike-related disruptions are expected to continue as the negotiations remain ongoing, with shipping ETA’s delayed due to operational processes being significantly affected.
- In preparation for the push to get cargo out prior to the extended Golden Week holiday, Yantian Port has increased its daily export container reservation to 14,000 from September 28th to 30th, and the acceptance of export laden containers from ETB-7 to ETD-10. The current estimated vessel berthing time is 12 to 24 hours at YICT.
Please refer to the below illustration of Century’s assessment of the operating status at the major origin ports throughout Asia.
- A potential first US national rail strike in 30 years has been averted following a tentative agreement brokered by The White House between the unions and the rail companies. The deal, brokered by President Joe Biden, still requires a ratification vote by the unions to be formally accepted. The unions, who represent more than 60,000 rail workers in the US, would see an immediate wage increase of 14% with further add-ons over the next two years if they officially agree on Biden’s deal, and have publicly acknowledged the hard work of the President and Labor Secretary over their involvement in the deal.
ASIA PACIFIC LOCAL UPDATE
- October 1st marks the beginning of National Week (Golden Week Holiday) in China that will see the vast majority of the country’s population go on holiday. The CFS, customs and ports will either close or observe adjusted working hours. Century’s offices in China will be closed for the week-long holiday, however, skeleton staff at each site will be available to support with any urgent shipments or inquiries. Please refer to our holiday notice for details of each location.
- The Covid-19 situation remains largely stable in China, however, there have been isolated outbreaks reported in Guizhou province where the local government has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses until further notice. Beijing and Shanghai reported zero cases on September 25th. Shenzhen reported five local cases however the city’s ports are all operating as normal. The two-week lockdown in Chengdu, a megacity with a population of 21 million, was finally lifted on September 19th. Click here to visit our dedicated webpage for the latest details.
- The Hong Kong government announced its most significant reduction in Covid-19 restrictions since the virus began with the ending of mandatory hotel quarantine and re-opening of international borders. September 26th marked the beginning of the new ‘0+3’ scheme for inbound passengers that requires three days of self-medical surveillance following a nucleic acid test upon arrival at the airport, but, crucially, no hotel quarantine.
TRADE & ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS
- The Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Cambodia met in New York on Thursday 22nd September with the expectation of signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to expand bilateral co-operation between the two Asian nations. The FTA was first proposed by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen agreeing to the proposal during the bilateral meeting last Thursday. The meeting also saw discussions regarding Bangladeshi investment into Cambodian agriculture in addition to the possibility of signing an agreement relating to the export of rice from Cambodia to Bangladesh. Details of the FTA are yet to be released, with the new tariffs and duty-free commodities list still being finalized.
Besides our suite of tools in VMS® that power your supply chains every day, the following solutions we offer provide you with alternatives to maximize the efficiency in your supply chain operations and mitigate the ongoing industry challenges.
- Warehouse Storage – Besides the normal CFS cargo flow through our warehouse network, we can also work with you to take on dedicated storage space to accept vendor deliveries based on their production schedules. This can help to alleviate pressure at vendor facilities while also ensuring that your cargo can be dispatched as soon as carrier space becomes available.
- Value-added Services – The wide range of value-added services we provide at origin CFS, such as pick and pack, consolidation, labelling, and palletization, gives you a one-stop solution for greater supply chain efficiency. Century can build direct store loads from our Asia CFS facilities to bypass transloads/DCs and streamline inbound delivery.
- Origin Trucking Solution – With support from your carriers, we can arrange trucking to alternate ports where carrier space is more readily available, allowing for greater flexibility in space planning to achieve forecasted departure dates.
- Destination Services – Our physical network in North America extends beyond the primary shipping hubs in California. Our coverage in the Pacific Northwest and the East Coast gives you alternative storage and transload options, as well as other destination services such as pick and pack and cross-dock services throughout the United States and Canada.
- Customs Clearance & Brokerage – Our team of licensed brokers and compliance experts will handle your documentation and clearance process directly with US Customs. As your trusted trade compliance partner, we help you avoid costly delays at the border and penalties for misfiling.
Talk to your Century Account Manager or contact a sales representative today to understand how we can develop a customized solution to meet your supply chain needs! We will continue to work together with your logistics teams to navigate these unique shipping times through every step in the supply chain.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this newsletter was provided by our partners across Asia and referenced from online sources that were not specifically authorized for third-party usage. The aim of this publication is for informational purposes only. While Century endeavors to validate the authenticity of the stipulated information, Century is not responsible for its accuracy and completeness and does not accept liability or responsibility for any actions taken upon reliance.
- Sea Intelligence: Ramp up in Golden Week capacity reductions
- Freightos Baltic Index
- Bangladesh, Cambodia to sign FTA
- Vietnam imposes curfew, shuts airports as Typhoon Noru hits country after wreaking havoc in Philippines
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