Trans-Pacific Trade

Trans-Pacific Trade

The trans-Pacific ocean shipping market is by far North America’s largest trade lane, accounting for nearly 20 million 20-foot-equivalent container units in the U.S. trade alone in 2012.

The market is dominated by imports by large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s, which, unlike in other markets, tend to contract directly with ocean carriers rather than through forwarders, as is typically the case in the Asia-Europe market. As a result of the one-year contracts that retailers and other large shippers typically sign as of May 1 each year, freight rates in the trans-Pacific eastbound trade tend to be less volatile than in Asia-Europe.

Key developments in the trans-Pacific include the approaching 2015 expansion of the Panama Canal and its potentially huge impact on routing of Asia goods into North America, Canadian West Coast ports’ growing success in attracting U.S.-bound cargo, and West Coast ports’ expected response to these competitive challenges.

Exports moving to those markets typically are lower-value commodities such as wastepaper and scrap that keep China’s manufacturing and packaging industries humming.

Special Coverage

The results of the 2014-15 service contracting season in the eastbound Pacific are in, and from the perspective of ocean carriers, they’re not pretty.

News & Analysis

Drewry’s benchmark spot rate from Hong Kong to Los Angeles jumped 14.5 percent, or $300 per FEU this week.
03 Sep 2014
After weeks of stagnation, Drewry’s benchmark spot rate from Hong Kong to Los Angeles jumped this week on the back of Sept. 1 trans-Pacific general rate increases.
SCFI: Asia-Northern Europe
22 Aug 2014
Another week of volatility in the spot market has brought container rates down over all of the major trade lanes, according to the latest readings of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index.
Shoes in a store
21 Aug 2014
Containerized footwear imports into the United States plummeted in the first half of 2014, although the industry is optimistic sales will pick up in the second half of the year.
Hapag-Lloyd containers
17 Aug 2014
Even with sustained growth in volumes across all major trade lanes, Hapag-Lloyd’s loss widened in the first half of 2014, in large part because of falling and volatile freight rates.
The SCFI Shanghai-U.S. East Coast rate slipped just 0.2 percent week-to-week to $4,178 per 40-foot container.
15 Aug 2014
Growing volumes to the U.S. East Coast caused by cargo diversions and peak-season demand have buoyed spot rates on the lane.
Drewry’s benchmark spot rate from Hong Kong to Los Angeles dropped 4.6 percent week-to-week, falling to $2,075 per 40-foot container.
13 Aug 2014
Big gains in the spot rates from Hong Kong to Los Angeles began to erode this week, as a benchmark of the rate to the U.S. West Coast dropped $100 per container.

Commentary

If there’s a theme to this year’s TPM Conference, it’s that 2014 is the year of the game-changer in international logistics. The changes the industry is grappling with as we congregate in Long Beach this week are profound and will define the main challenges confronting shippers, carriers, third-party logistics providers and others possibly for years.

Video

William Rooney, Kuehne + Nagel vice president, responds to questions about the current slower growth environment and the NVO ability to provide “something broader than rates” as the trans-Pacific trade evolves.
Stephane Rambaud, senior vice president at C.H. Robinson, discusses the integration of Phoenix International, which the logistics firm acquired in 2012, the company's consolidation services, and the challenges of volatility in the trans-Pacific trade.
Steven Cernak, chief executive and port director of Port Everglades, and James Hertwig, president of Florida East Coast Railway, discuss their organizations’ recent performance, their partnership in a new intermodal container transfer facility, and the opportunities they see and projects they are pursuing for further growth.