Shipping container prices soar by 26% in Singapore, leasing rates double

12.06.2024

  • Higher westbound freight demand and diversions around the red sea act as key drivers of this surge
  • Operational challenges to continue beyond June, price hikes to persist in short term
  • Singapore, China and Vietnam, key hotspots of container price surge in Asia

Recent data from Container xChange indicates significant impact of congestion on the average container prices and leasing rates at the port of Singapore. Average container prices in Singapore have surged by 26% from October 2023 to May 2024, reflecting a substantial increase in demand for capacity amid global congestion.

Furthermore, container leasing rates on key routes, such as China to the US, have doubled since November, exacerbating the challenges faced by shippers.

“This situation is anticipated to persist into June and beyond, driven by a confluence of factors including vessel bunching, disrupted global shipping schedules, and heightened demand for container handling capacity. Persistent congestion at a key hub like Singapore can impact global trade flows, affecting the movement of goods between Asia, Europe, and the Americas.” explained Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO of Container xChange.

Average container prices rise by 26% in Singapore in response to box demand

Recent data from Container xChange highlights a 26% increase in average container prices from October 2023 to May 2024 in Singapore. The situation of global congestion has also led to increased port omissions in major ports, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Ningbo, and Shanghai.

 

The average prices for 20 ft dry containers are rising at a similar pace in Singapore. These were $950 in September 2023, which now sit at $1211 in the last week of May.

Vietnam has been experiencing a similar trend of rising average container prices as the average price for a 40 ft high cube container in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam was $1190 in November which is now $1610, a jump of 35% since the Red sea attacks.

The broader environment has a significant impact on the congestion at the Singapore port. Demand for cargo from China to the US and China to Europe has significantly increased over the last six months. This uptick in demand also affects box movement at the Singapore port, given that Singapore is a strategic transshipment hub crucial for the smooth and efficient functioning of global trade.

Container leasing rates Ex China to US double since Houthi attacks

The average container leasing rates have doubled since November on the China to US route (for instance, Shanghai-Los Angeles increased from $643 in November 2023 to $1100 in May 2024, Shanghai – Long Beach have reached $1230 in May this year from $610 in November 2023).

 China to Europe rates significantly up

Here is a screenshot of the shanghai to Rotterdam one-way container leasing rates. The rates were $547 in November 2023, which are now at $1310 as in May 2024. This is a 140% increase, as the rates have spiked by $763 after the Houthi attacks on the Shanghai to Rotterdam route.  

 

Shanghai to Hamburg  

We see a similar trend Ex Shanghai to Hamburg for the one-way leasing rates for containers. These rates were $368 in October which rose to $1390 in June so far. 

 

Weekly price spikes hottest in China

China container prices continue to rise at a staggering weekly average

Prolonged Congestion Expected

The congestion at the Port of Singapore is anticipated to extend well into June and potentially longer. Several factors contribute to this prolonged situation. Firstly, container throughput in Singapore has risen by 8.8% year-on-year to 13.4 million TEUs in the first four months of 2024, leading to significant berthing delays of up to 2-3 days due to off-schedule arrivals. Secondly, disrupted global shipping schedules have resulted in vessel bunching, with ships arriving in clusters and overwhelming terminal operations. Lastly, despite efforts by PSA International to increase handling capacity by reactivating older berths and adding manpower, the volume of off-schedule arrivals continues to strain the system, exacerbating the congestion.

Maersk estimated recently that there has been a 15-20% reduction in available industry-wide capacity in Q2 of 2024.

Capacity enhancements by shipping lines

Maersk has added 125,000 additional containers to its fleet and are exploring further capacity enhancements. Hapag Lloyd added three new vessels which added over 60,000 TEU to its total capacity. CMA CGM Group added seven additional vessels with a capacity of 7,000 TEUs to meet the sudden increase in maritime transport demand between Asia,  Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Operational Adjustments by Carriers

In response to the congestion, several shipping lines have started omitting Singapore in favor of other regional ports. For instance, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has diverted some transshipment operations to Indian ports, while carriers like ONE and OOCL are discharging Singapore-bound cargo at Port Klang in Malaysia. This shift is putting additional pressure on these alternative ports, exacerbating regional congestion and delays.

The average container prices (40 ft high cube cargo-worthy) in port Klang, Malaysia were somewhere around $1390 in November 2023, which was $1707 in May 2024 and only 12 days into June, reached $1830.

Visit Container xChange Market Intelligence Hub for similar analysis and reports.

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