Alphaliner says ocean carriers are unlikely to succeed in pushing through steep and rapid rate hikes on the Far East-Europe trade in 2013 as they did around the same time last year. This is largely because of unfavorable conditions such as the relatively weak load factors leading up to Chinese New Year and no capacity storage. Moreover, any significant rate hike is unjustifiable as the current spot rates are already $500 per TEU higher than in the same period last year.
Although cumulative rate increases were announced totaling $1,300, freight rates have risen by only $250 per TEU over the period, despite what is supposed to be a seasonal peak as the holidays approach in the Far East.
Thus far, rate hikes this year have been followed by rapid erosion resulting from competition; forcing carriers to scale back their announced level. The latest general rate increase can be seen as a tactical defensive move by carriers to preempt further rate erosion after Chinese New Year in mid-February.