Average freight rates in the North Europe to US East Coast trade have increased by more than one third in the last few weeks. Increased US imports, port congestion and a lack of containers have created a situation in which cargo demand far exceeds the available capacity.
Carriers have transferred as much tonnage as possible to the two biggest East-West trades, leaving no ships to deal with a surge in European exports to North America.
Average weekly capacity in the Asia to North America trade stood at a record high of 568,820 teu on 1st May 2021 (an increase of 47.6% compared to 1st May 2020), while the current offering on Far East to Europe is up 24.6%. Europe to North America capacity, meanwhile, stood at 141,036 teu on 1st May 2021. This is an increase of only 1.4% compared to 1st May 2020, when capacity was already 3.2% lower than 1st May 2019 due to the pandemic.
The latest figures from Container Trade Statistics (CTS) indicate strong growth in European containerised exports to North America, with January at +19.4% and February at +7.9%.
The Port of New York and New Jersey had its busiest month ever in March with 789,776 teu handled, demonstrating an increase of 40.8% compared to March 2020 and an increase of 35% compared to March 2019.
While these figures cover all trades, they confirm heavy trade imbalance in US East Coast container traffic. New York’s outgoing empties, for example, accounted for 0.70 Mteu (+43.6%) in Q1 alone. Increasing cargo import volumes and a slowdown in US exports via New York have prompted the port’s trade imbalance to grow. Consequently, in March, outbound empties traffic shot up by 77.5% YOY.
Several carriers have responded to the volume surge by deploying extra sailers from Europe to North America, such as the 13,102 teu MSC CRISTINA.
Supporting our customers in these challenging times is our priority. Should you have any questions regarding specific bookings, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Customer teams.