Container rates rise again; have now nearly doubled to LA

LONDON – Spot ocean container rates rose 5% this week to an average of $3,964 per 40-foot container. They’re now up 94% from the same week last year, according to container price analyst Drewry.

Rates from Shanghai to Los Angeles rose 13% to $4,344, while rates from Shanghai to New York increased 9% to $6,143.

Over the past four weeks, rates have soared across all trade routes due to the ongoing Red Sea conflict. Since the start of January, rates have risen 83% from Shanghai to Los Angeles and 78% from Shanghai to New York.

They’re the highest they’ve been since October 2022 and are 179% higher than 2019 pre-pandemic rates of $1,420.

This week’s increase, however, shows a slowdown from last week. As such, Drewry expects rates to plateau or decline in the coming weeks.

As reported previously, rates are spiking due to the ongoing conflict in the Red Sea. They’ve been rising since Yemen’s Houthi militants began attacking certain container ships traveling through the Suez Canal three weeks ago as a response to the Israel-Palestine conflict. To cope, ocean carriers began diverting ships to travel around the horn of Africa through the Cape of Good Hope instead, which adds around 14 extra days to a ship’s journey, as well as increasing costs.

The issue is being compounded by a months-long drought in the Panama Canal, which has provoked carriers to redirect freight over to the Suez, only for it to be diverted again.

Furniture importers are being affected on both coasts. Some are seeing minor delays, while others are making major redirects, with East Coast importer BDI opting to shift half of its product over to the West Coast instead. See how companies are coping here.

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