The quickest-to-understand fact about containerized trade market in major routes, is that they have declined since the boom in April. Figure 1 demonstrates the shifts of harpex (by different ship sizes). A simple look to the chart shows that the biggest and smallest ships have brought the market down, however in the mid-sized ships, improvements are apparent.
The 8500 TEUs, who had actually been the front runner till April 4, 2018, can now be regarded as the-most-fallen-behind player in the chart with almost %19 fall. Along with the 8500-TEU ships, the 700-TEU feeders time charter rate have also dropped by nearly %18. However, in the middle, some ships have experienced changes as high as %14 increase (4250 TEUs), %11 (2500 TEUs)and %9 (2700 TEUs, 3500 TEUs), others have experienced lower changes like 1100 TEUs ( %3.7 decrease), 1700 TEUs (%1.44 increase) and 6500 TEUs (%2 increase).
Drewry has also published the recent World Container Index on May 17, 2018 with %1.1 decrease compared to last week and %8.9 decrease compared to the same period in 2017. China’s export and import trade routes are down again for the 3rd time in a row (an average of %2.1 decrease in weekly rates comparison and %11.1 decrease in year to year comparison), however the major Transatlantic route of Rotterdam to New York and vice versa has experienced a %9 year to year increase.
Albeit, a very important shift in the market of both container and dry bulk is bound to happen very soon due to the rise of bunker prices by 5-10 percent due to the increase in oil prices. this will cause and in some cases have caused a major increase in freight rates which will be mainly felt in June.
Containerized Import Rates of Middle East and Iran Southern Ports
China Forwarders’ Freight Index (CFFI) have published its China-Middle East freight composite index in May 18, 2017, with a %7.3 increase compared to its last week, which puts it at two-month high, however in a year to year comparison it has dropped by %52. Figure 2 Shows Published composite rates of Chinese main ports to Middle East main ports. As the chart demonstrates, the highest freight rate amongst Chinese main ports to Bandar Abbas, belongs to Dalian and the lowest, as always, goes to Xiamen. Also Bandar Abbas’ average freight rate from main chinese ports is 456 which puts it above Dammam with 452 and below Jebel Ali with 458. Moreover, the destination with the highest freight rates is Doha with an average of almost 800.
Albeit, the game changer of Iran southern ports container freight rates in the next few weeks will be the 3 main shipping lines -Maersk, CMA-CGM, APL- possible drop out of these ports due to USA’s – not-sure-why- actions regarding Iran. This has caused some lines to increase their freight rates even at this early point using this opportunity for their benefits. Of course, if these main lines put out of their Iran services in the next couple of weeks, the rates will increase by at least USD 100-300 per TEU at their lowest due to less capacity (supply) in the market. Although, for now nothing can be said definitely about the future, but at this stage it seems that many Iranian importers are struggling through the recent radical changes of import and foreign payment procedures due to the high fluctuations of US Dollar market in Iran and they are not worried about freight rates at the moment, however it is possible that in the near future when new procedures’ rough edges smoothes out, then importers’ main challenge will be the high freight rates.