Trade Lanes

Trade Lanes

In-depth news and analysis of the world's major shipping trade lanes including the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, Asia-Europe and more.

Several variables can affect a trade lane's popularity — including its inclusion/discontinuance by an ocean carrier. The container line landscape is constantly evolving as market dynamics present new challenges to the industry.


Negotiations for 2019-2020 shipping contracts will be difficult on a number of fronts.

News & Analysis

10 Mar 2020
Big capacity cuts fueled by coronavirus-related disruptions have resulted in large rate hikes on India trade lanes.
06 Mar 2020
Shippers and transportation providers are hoping the 2019 European Union–Mercosur free trade agreement will finally bring some much-needed stability to the northbound South America–Europe trade lane, but lawmakers in Europe are having a tough time ratifying the deal.
02 Mar 2020
Terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach are canceling work shifts due to plunging cargo volumes, which is causing a backlog of empty containers in Southern California and could trigger chassis shortages if the condition is not resolved soon.
28 Feb 2020
Spot rates in the eastbound trans-Pacific edged up slightly this week in the wake of blank sailings driven by the Lunar New Year and the coronavirus, although industry sources express optimism for growing cargo volumes in the second half of March.
18 Feb 2020
Declining imports due to factory shutdowns in Asia from the Lunar New Year and the coronavirus are beginning to produce a shortage of empty containers in the US interior, with the shortages expected to spike in March.
Container capacity cuts can't stop coronavirus-fueled spot rate dive
17 Feb 2020
Carriers are not having much success in balancing capacity with falling demand as the coronavirus impact cuts China’s export volume.
PIL to exit trans-Pacific in March, citing ‘strategic review’
14 Feb 2020
Pacific International Lines, which participates in a half-dozen trans-Pacific services, mostly in slot-charter arrangements, is exiting the highly-competitive Asia-US trade lane.
10 Feb 2020
Logistics experts say a return to full production in China is unlikely before the end of February, while the post-Lunar New Year lull in the trans-Pacific could extend into March because of delayed factory re-openings due to the coronavirus.
07 Feb 2020
Shippers are watching with mounting concern as measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak in China begin to weigh heavily on supply chains.
05 Feb 2020
Major carriers, including Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Hapag-Lloyd, last week announced a GRI of $400 per TEU and $500 per FEU for all types of cargo moving on the westbound Indian trade to the US and Canada, effective March 1.
Coronavirus to cost China ports 6 million TEU in Q1: analyst
05 Feb 2020
The first real estimate of the impact the coronavirus will have on China’s container supply chain has been made, and it is significant.
04 Feb 2020
Data shows that backhaul shippers are being partially subsidized by headhaul shippers; for the Pacific backhaul, that figure is roughly $1.6 billion annually.
03 Feb 2020
Beneficial cargo owners are increasingly worried that disruptions in the manufacturing and logistics supply chains in China could worsen in the coming weeks due to the coronavirus. One shipper group has asked carriers to extend free time for container storage in the US.
30 Jan 2020
A Chinese government mandate extending the Lunar New Year holidays due to the deadly coronavirus means carriers and US ports will experience slack-season volumes well into March.
Lunar New Year calm sets path for less volatile trans-Pacific
24 Jan 2020
This week before the beginning of Lunar Lunar was marked by scattered rolled cargo in Asia and flat spot rates in eastbound Pacific, indicating that the normal pre-New Year surge of imports did not happen.
OOCL has reported a good first year under the ownership of Cosco Shipping.
24 Jan 2020
The US-China trade war pulled down OOCL’s performance in the trans-Pacific, but volume and revenue growth in other trades kept its overall operational result in positive territory.
17 Jan 2020
The US-China trade war slammed import volumes sufficiently enough in 2019 that imports from Asia experienced their first year-on-year drop since the 2009 global recession.
10 Jan 2020
US imports in January-February are projected to drop steeply year-over-year, but pick up in March and return to normal seasonal trends.
10 Jan 2020
Despite the continuation of US import tariffs on $370 billion in Chinese-made goods and a slowing global economy, Asian container trade growth is expected to accelerate in 2020.
06 Jan 2020
The impact of steadily rising low-sulfur fuel prices on carriers is being partly offset by a strong increase in the Asia-Europe spot market, but the traditional slack season is just a couple of weeks away.
Trans-Pac carriers recouping IMO surcharges, but scale unclear
03 Jan 2020
Recent quotes by carriers on their surcharges for more expensive low-sulfur fuel oil are confusing shippers and causing suspicion carriers are attempting to make unreasonable profits from the global LSFO mandate that took effect Wednesday.
31 Dec 2019
The “phase one” trade deal has eased tensions between the US and China and prompted Washington to cancel some tariffs and reduce others, a move welcomed by US retailers, who say the tariffs have been a drag on the US economy.
K+N: Greener ocean services don’t always come at a premium
18 Dec 2019
On the east-west trades, some services with higher CO2 emissions come with the same cost and transit time as those services providing a more eco-friendly operation.
APMT joint venture widens Cosco’s Med footprint
12 Dec 2019
Cosco has added a new container terminal to its expanding European portfolio in a JV with APM Terminals.
Alphaliner raises alarm over possible overcharging on low-sulfur fees
11 Dec 2019
Carriers have struggled to lift spot rates on the Asia-Europe trade, and the wide variations in low-sulfur surcharge levels have an analyst asking questions.
04 Dec 2019
The double-digit spot rate hike on Asia-US this past week was due largely to the implementation of low-sulfur fuel surcharges. Carriers can take heart, for now, from their ability to make December’s interim LSFO surcharges stick as they prepare for permanent surcharges after the Jan. 1 implementation of IMO 2020.
27 Nov 2019
An Arctic routing translates to 24-25 days of sailing versus a 34-35 day transit via the Suez. That provides an opportunity to not only profit from -- but also further contribute to -- global warming.
15 Nov 2019
The second straight weekly decline in spot rates in the eastbound Pacific seems to show that the peak shipping season was uneventful -- and that the 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion of imports from China due to go into effect Dec. 15 is having no significant impact on freight volumes.
13 Nov 2019
Declining imports from China are dragging down container volumes in the eastbound trans-Pacific, and if inventory levels remain higher than usual, a weak Lunar New Year month in January is possible.
31 Oct 2019
Even before Wednesday’s announcement canceling the Nov. 15 Apec meeting in Chile, footwear importers were warned their industry would continue to encounter a drumbeat of uncertainty and possibly higher duty rates.
Trans-Pacific spot rates stabilize ahead of projected import bump
25 Oct 2019
Spot rates on the eastbound Pacific stabilized as carriers prepare for a possible spike in imports from China next month ahead of the next round of tariffs scheduled to take effect Dec. 15 in US-China trade war.
25 Oct 2019
Rates on Asia–Europe have edged upwards and volume on the trade continues to grow in an apparent contradiction of the gloomy trading environment.
25 Oct 2019
Imports of household products from Asia increased just 0.6 percent through August because of US-China trade war. But with China’s dominant role in that sector and number two Vietnam at capacity, there will be no significant shift in sourcing away from China.
22 Oct 2019
Impressive diversification of export markets in Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America has shielded US resin shippers from the worst effects of the trade war with China.
18 Oct 2019
A slight increase in eastbound trans-Pacific spot rates reflects final shipments that left China before Golden Week, but dozens of blank sailings already announced for October-November indicate carriers expect imports to be weak going forward.