Shipping lines in the eastbound Pacific announced a target Friday of increasing freight rates $400 per 40-foot container to the U.S. West Coast and $600 on shipments to the interior and the East Coast next year.
The voluntary guidelines from the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement also call for a peak season surcharge of $400 per FEU from June 15 through Nov. 30, 2011. Many of the service contracts that shipping lines will negotiate with their customers will run from May 1, 2011, to April 30, 2012.
The TSA is a discussion agreement that includes 15 of the largest shipping lines that carry U.S. imports from Asia. Each year about this time the TSA issues voluntary pricing guidelines for its members based on market projections for the coming year. The TSA has no enforcement powers so member lines can and often do set prices that differ from the guidelines.
By The Numbers: Container Rate Benchmark.
The group said its research projects cargo volume in the eastbound Pacific next year will increase in the range of 6 to 9 percent. TSA estimates containerized imports from Asia for the entire year of 2010 will increase about 12 percent. This year's relatively strong growth follows a disastrous 2009 when volume dropped about 15 percent.
"The trans-Pacific is clearly returning to some kind of normality, with the U.S. and Asian economies still closely linked and imports from Asia still vital to U.S. consumers and businesses," said Y.M. Kim, chief executive of Hanjin Shipping and TSA chairman.
Carriers saw two strong quarters of revenue growth in 2010, but in the highly competitive rate environment of the trans-Pacific, two strong quarters do not offset two years of heavy losses, Kim said.
TSA Executive Administrator Brian Conrad said carriers have experienced steadily rising costs in the areas of labor, container-handling, inland transportation and equipment purchasing and leasing.
Vessel capacity in the trans-Pacific increased this 18.6 percent, with 15 new and restored services, including three new operators on the Pacific.
In addition to the voluntary freight rate guidelines, TSA is recommending its members seek full recovery of ancillary costs involving bunker fuel, inland fuel, Panama Canal and Alameda Corridor charges. Carriers normally attempt to recover such costs through surcharges.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.