Maersk Line is telling its customers to expect a shortage of container availability for exports out of Asia lasting through the peak season.
The warning of shortages came in a notice to customers on the Web site of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association explaining why the Danish carrier is imposing a peak season surcharge on the Asia-Europe trade even though it has not yet officially announced it.
“As the peak season kicks in, we estimate that there will be a significantly higher demand for liner transport coupled with a shortage of equipment across the entire industry,” the Maersk advisory said.
“There will simply not be enough containers available in Asia to meet the demand for transported goods to Europe. There is a substantial additional cost incurred from the many extensive measures we have taken, and continue to take, to provide equipment to our customers,” Maersk said in the note on the CIFFA website.
Asia-Europe Westbound Container Traffic: By The Numbers.
Maersk said the peak surcharge will enable it to recover the higher costs caused by the increased volumes, including port costs, equipment positioning costs and extra loaders.
The surcharge, $750 per 20-foot equivalent container unit and $1,000 per 40-foot container unit, is scheduled to take effect July 15 on westbound shipments to North Europe in response to a sharp increase in traffic on one of the world’s busiest container routes.
Maersk hasn’t officially announced the surcharges, but spokesman Michael Storgaard confirmed details to Reuters in Copenhagen on Friday.
Maersk said the surcharge is relatively higher on 20-foot units than on 40-foot units because “there is a greater lack of 20-foot units compared to 40-foot units. Consequently, the cost of supplying the Asian market with 20-foot containers is proportionally higher.”
The surcharge, which is expected to remain in place through the third quarter — traditionally the peak season for containerized ocean shipments — comes on top of steep increases in ocean freight rates since the beginning of the year. Rates for Asia-Europe cargo have soared close to $4,000 per 40-foot container from just a few hundred dollars in the depth of the 2009 recession.
Maersk said it is not trying to take advantage of the current equipment shortage situation, but is adjusting prices in line with seasonal demand.
“Pricing levels change in line with seasonal demand in many industries, including services, travel and manufactured goods,” it said.
“As an example, when you book a vacation in the middle of the peak summer months, the price will be higher compared to off-peak periods. In container shipping there are additional expenses to scale a network for a peak volume flow compared to off-peak.”
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