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

21 Nov 2014
Five carriers today joined Mediterranean Shipping Co. in announcing congestion surcharges on cargo heading from Asia to U.S. West Coast ports.
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.
11 Aug 2014
Though negotiations between longshoremen and port employers on the U.S. West Coast have been uncharacteristically tame, the effects of the labor dispute on supply chains are beginning to become apparent, according to Fitch Ratings.
CMA CGM was correct in saying its PEX3 service had the fastest transit time from Yantian to Los Angeles at 13 days.
11 Aug 2014
It is becoming increasingly difficult for a shipper to determine which carrier in the eastbound trans-Pacific has the fastest transit time between two given ports, according to a new analysis from SeaIntel, a consulting firm.
Bill Rooney
10 Aug 2014
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.

Commentary

Nightmare scenarios are occurring all day, every day at the two biggest U.S. container ports, and the customers receiving some of the worst service are among the nation's largest shippers.

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.