The year-on-year change of container handling for the major North America West Coast ports (Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Prince Rupert, Vancouver, and Seattle/Tacoma) has been negative in four out of the first six months of 2022 while there was a 4 percent increase in June 2022.

"On an annualised basis, however, the growth rate has largely been under 6 percent since the second half of 2021 although there was a sharp increase to 14.2% in March 2022," says the latest update from Sea-Intelligence. "In the last few months, however, the annualised growth rate has slightly level-shifted upwards slightly to 4-8 percent although the overall trend in 2022Q2 has been downwards."

Alan Murphy, CEO, Sea-Intelligence says: "While we normally use a Y/Y growth metric in our analyses because of the volatile nature of the pandemic years, the Y/Y growth in 20211H becomes distorted and overly inflated (due to the contraction in 20201H). Hence, we have also used an annualised growth rate with 2019 as its base, which was the last "normal" year pre-Covid."

Carriers are continuing to prioritise empty container exports out of North America West Coast, the update added. "With demand growth slowing down, carriers might be looking at a lower utilisation on the head-haul, and we might start to see an increase in laden exports out of North America West Coast. The laden-to-empty container export ratio, which is at 0.5 right now (favour empty exports) will then also start to increase."

Spot rates drop, long-term rates increase
Decreasing spot freight rates and increasing long-term container rates between the Far East to U.S. West and East Coasts create an opportunity for carriers to secure long-term contracts while offering shippers a chance to improve supply chain resilience, says the latest update from Xeneta.

"Spot freight rates on the Far East to the U.S. East Coast have fallen by more than $3,400/FEU (-26.9 percent) since the start of this year compared to the U.S. West Coast, which has declined by$3,200/ FEU (-33.1 percent)." The spot rate from the Far East to the U.S. West Coast stood at $6,400/FEU on August 9 while the spot rate to the U.S. East Coast was $9,300/FEU.

Long-term rates to the U.S. East Coast have increased over 103 percent since the start of the year, and rates to the U.S. West Coast have increased by nearly 97 percent. "Falling shipping rates, in general, would offer an opportunity for global shippers as they seek to strike the right balance between the spot and long term market while improving supply chain resilience."

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