Carriers are riding high on a profitable wave of record rates, surprisingly strong demand, and lower fuel costs, but there is no consensus among analysts and ratings agencies on whether it will be sustainable.
A substantial increase in heavy truck orders in September begs the question: Who will drive those trucks? Trucking employment is improving, but still down 4.7 percent year over year.
Giving better volume forecasts to container lines and collaborating with truckload carriers can help shippers when capacity gets tight, but it’s higher rates that lock in the slot space on a vessel or guarantees a trailer load gets picked up when needed.
If container shipping rode the wave of China’s emergence, set in motion by the global consensus around trade represented by the creation of the WTO in 1995, the industry must now confront a potentially very different geopolitical future taking shape with almost daily developments chronicling a deterioration in US-China relations.
Three large container lines say most of their available capacity is in use as demand in the US rises, but shippers still fret about finding space on a ship.