Average eastbound trans-Pacific spot rates fell this week for the first time in 2012 as vessel overcapacity and slack seasonal demand undermined carrier efforts to lift rates.
The Drewry Container Rate Benchmark for average spot rates for shipping a 40-foot equivalent container unit from Hong Kong to Los Angeles declined 1.6 percent from last week to $1,803. This week’s benchmark was 8.2 percent lower than the $1,964 per FEU benchmark in the same week last year.
Until this week the Drewry benchmark rate had been flat for the last five weeks, following a 27.6 percent increase in the first week of 2012 when the carriers that belong to the Trans-Pacific Stabilization Agreement put a $400 per FEU rate increase into effect.
Last month the 15-member TSA called for a two-tier voluntary general rate increase as of March 15 that could bring the total GRI to $800 per FEU. The TSA recommended a GRI of $300 per FEU and an additional increase of $500 per FEU landed at West Coast ports, and $700 per FEU on intermodal services to interior destinations and on all-water services from Asia to the East Coast.
Although U.S. retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in January and consumer confidence is improving, it remains to be seen whether demand will be strong enough to sustain the recommended GRIs.