Ocean Carriers Delay Peak-Season Surcharge

Ocean Carriers Delay Peak-Season Surcharge

A peak-season surcharge scheduled to take effect next week in the eastbound Pacific has been postponed for at least one month.

The Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, which represents most of the large carriers in the U.S. import trade from Asia, late last year published a voluntary guideline for its members calling for a peak-season surcharge of $400 per 40-foot container to run from June 15 through Nov. 30.

However, due to weaker-than-expected imports during the past month and excess capacity on services to the West Coast, a number of carriers have postponed the peak-season surcharges. Most carriers now aim for the peak season surcharge to take effect on July 15 to the West Coast.

By the Numbers: Europe-Asia Eastbound Container Trade.

Carriers have more leverage on all-water services to the East Coast, where vessels are smaller and utilization rates are higher. Some carriers still intend to impose a surcharge this month, with others planning on the peak-season surcharge to take effect on July 1.

Carriers were successful in imposing peak-season surcharges in 2010 because of tight vessel capacity and equipment shortages earlier in the year. Also, importers shipped some of their merchandise in the spring rather than waiting for the autumn rush to begin.

This year is shaping up to be a more traditional peak, with retailers planning on importing their holiday merchandise in late summer through October.

-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bmongelluzzo@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @billmongelluzzo