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China Reopens after Chinese New Year, Container Rates Plateau


China Reopens after Chinese New Year, Container Rates Plateau

Geopolitical risks are impacting the supplier strategy of many companies globally. While majority (63%) of the companies surveyed by Container xChange in the month of February’24 are looking to diversify their supplier portfolio, 37% are still going to reduce the number of suppliers they aimed to diversify in the year 2021 in response to the pandemic and its resulting repercussions. 


Chart 1: Container xChange Supplier Diversification Survey Results, February 2024

Persistent geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe and the Middle East, have led to shifts in trade patterns, requiring industry players to redesign supplier mix for their supply chain. 

“We are uncertain about who to partner with and who to discontinue our associations with. The situation is getting trickier for us as freight forwarders due to the ongoing war in the Middle East, leading to fewer partners in the east. The risks of sanctions and increased uncertainty are significant factors driving our need for trusted partners.” – A freight forwarder from the USA and a Container xChange customer

Container Trading and Leasing rates plateau

The month of February 2024 marked a pivotal moment in the trajectory of container leasing and trading rates, which had been on the rise since past three months (starting November 2023), coinciding with the onset of the Red Sea crisis. This inflection point closely aligned with our forecast from the preceding months, as Container xChange had anticipated a reduction in demand and subsequently a reduction in average container prices and leasing rates post Chinese New Year.


Chart 2: Average container trading prices for 40 ft High cube containers in China 

As the Chinese New Year holiday period concluded and business activities resumed, the rates failed to sustain their upward momentum. 

Our forecasts predict that the container prices will fall by a measure of 8-16% in the coming two months (March and April 2024) in China going by the cyclic nature of price developments as an impact of the post Chinese New Year demand reduction.  We also foresee potential decline in container prices across the United States, ports of Vancouver and Toronto, and in Europe in the coming two months. * 

(*It’s important to note that these forecasts assume that other macro and micro factors remain constant. Any significant changes in these factors could impact the accuracy of these forecasts.)

Table 1: Year-on-year comparison of average container prices** for 40 ft cargo-worthy containers in China. 

**All average prices are rounded off in the nearest dollar. 

Red Sea Update

On November 19, Iran-backed Houthi forces began attacking shipping vessels affiliated with Israel passing through the Red Sea. 102 days later, the shipping industry has emerged from this crisis better prepared than many had predicted.

As the industry typically responds to such crises, the initial impact was felt on rates. Freight rates immediately and persistently jumped as the world entered the last month of 2023. This timing also coincided with the pre-Lunar New Year rush, which builds up in January and culminates in February. Consequently, the freight rate boom continued well into 2024 as shippers aimed to deliver cargo for the cyclical demand, known as the pre-Chinese New Year rush.

Following the conclusion of the Chinese New Year on February 24, 2024, signs of fading demand and falling freight and container rates began to appear.

What Lies Ahead?

A continued decline in rates is expected, although not crashing. Freight rates typically fall by 30% every year from February to March and into April. Similarly, container rates are expected to fall by a measure of 18-6% depending on locations, with a higher percentage of decline expected in Asia.

Over the last 30 days (February 2024), container prices rose by 10% in Northeast Asia, 7% in Oceania, and 2.5% in Southeast Asia, remaining stable in North America. However, prices declined in Europe (5-7%), Japan and Korea (5%), and the Middle East and ISC region (2.4%).

Chart 3: Region-wise change in container prices in February 2024


Container Market Price Trends

Despite the demand lull post-Chinese New Year, there have been significant week-on-week changes in market prices for containers:

Locations with biggest week on week growth (as on 1 March, 2024) 

Table 2: Locations with biggest week on week growth in container prices 

Locations with biggest week on week declines (as on 1 March, 2024) 

Table 3: Locations with biggest week on week decline in container prices 


A significant development is that the rates did not decline drastically in the last week of February (as seen in the table) compared to previous years. This can be attributed to the volatility caused by the Red Sea diversions and capacity being tied up in the market.

Supply Chain professionals hopeful of higher container prices in the coming weeks

While the cyclical forecasts indicate otherwise, Container xChange’s price sentiment index (xCPSI) indicates that the supply chain professionals remain positive about the container price hikes further into the month of March owing to the persistent red sea situation and its implications on supply chains. 

While the xCPSI was in the negative territory throughout Q1’23, indicating a market sentiment where majority expected prices to continue slashing off the floor, the sentiment index reached an all-time high this February’24 owing to the Red Sea crisis and its perceived impact on container prices globally. 

Chart 4: Container Price Sentiment Index (xCPSI) by Container xChange as on 29 February, 2024, source: 

“In the shipping industry, March is a transitional period following the Chinese New Year (CNY). Historically, CNY has led to a slowdown in manufacturing and shipping activity in China, which can cause a temporary decrease in demand for shipping services. However, as businesses resume operations after the holiday, there can be a surge in demand for shipping, particularly for goods that need to be restocked after the holiday period.” explained Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO of Container xChange, an online container trading and leasing platform. 

“Additionally, March is often considered the beginning of the contract season for many shipping companies. This is when annual shipping contracts are negotiated and finalized for the upcoming year, which can influence shipping rates and capacity utilization in the industry. While March can be a period of increased demand compared to the immediate post-CNY period, it is not considered as robust as other peak seasons like the pre-holiday period leading up to Christmas.” Shared Roeloffs. 

Further into the year, rising inflation rates globally could potentially lead to higher production costs and increased consumer prices, thereby affecting trade volumes and container demand. As businesses grapple with inflationary pressures, they may need to reassess pricing strategies.” Added Roeloffs. 

“Consumer concerns regarding prices remain a key factor influencing purchasing decisions, with many consumers waiting for items to go on sale and stocking up on goods less frequently, impacting various product categories. The impact of above-average inflation, geopolitical risks, and uncertainty regarding interest rates is expected to continue influencing consumer goods markets in the near term.” Commented Reoloffs. 

“Additionally, monitoring global supply chain dynamics, including disruptions and changes in trade patterns, is crucial. These factors can significantly affect container trading and leasing rates on trade lanes, highlighting the importance of staying informed and agile in response to evolving market conditions.”

India struggles with container rates volatility 

The average prices for 40 ft cargo-worthy containers remained robust in Nhava Sheva and Chennai, where customers are facing container scarcity and tightening capacity due to the impact of the Red Sea crisis. However, we anticipate a 5% reduction in these prices in the coming two months (March and April 2024).

Although the rates are currently lower than those in 2022 and even lower than 2023, there has been a slight month-on-month improvement. However, there has been a consistent year-over-year reduction in container prices during the subsequent months of March and April, both globally and in India.

The Struggle for SOCs (Shipper-owned containers) in China 

There is a significant disparity between Carrier Owned Container (COC) prices and Shipper Owned Container (SOC) leasing prices. Despite a drop in COC prices, leasing prices for units remain high, leading SOC users to switch back to COC. However, this transition is slow, and market prices are taking time to stabilize. Customers anticipate that SOC leasing prices will eventually balance out, but this process is expected to be gradual.

Moreover, there seems to be a discrepancy between the price expectations of SOC users and the offers from suppliers. SOC users expect lower prices, while suppliers are offering higher prices. This mismatch is prolonging the adjustment process, as either suppliers need to lower their prices or users need to increase their target prices for the market to reach equilibrium. This feedback suggests a complex pricing dynamic in the container market in China, with multiple factors influencing price movements and adjustments.

For similar analysis and for xCPSI, please visit Container xChange Market Intelligence Hub here

About Container xChange 


Container xChange serves as a global online platform facilitating container leasing and trading, connecting container users with owners. The platform streamlines the process of finding and exchanging containers, optimizing fleet management, and fostering collaboration across the shipping industry.  

The neutral online platform…     

  1. connects supply and demand of shipping containers and transportation services with full transparency on availability, pricing, and reputation,     
  1. simplifies operations from pickup to drop-off of containers,    
  1. and auto-settles payments in real-time for all your transactions to reduce invoice reconciliation efforts and payment costs.    


Currently, more than 1500+ vetted container logistics companies trust xChange with their business—and enjoy transparency through performance ratings and partner reviews. Unlike limited personal networks, excel sheets and emails that the industry generally relies upon, Container xChange gives its users countless options to book and manage containers, move faster with confidence, and increase profit margins. 


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For media inquiries, please contact, Ritika Kapoor, Market Intelligence & Brand Lead, 

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Rising Spot Rates and Container Demand Surge in the Wake of Red Sea Turmoil, ahead of the Chinese New Year

The Red Sea, a vital conduit for East-West trade, is undergoing unprecedented turmoil due to persistent attacks by Houthi rebels, causing significant uptick in fuel and insurance costs, longer voyages and capacity soak up for the transportation and logistics sector. 

Container xChange, an online container logistics platform for container trading and container leasing, issues a critical advisory as the Red Sea crisis deepens, impacting the landscape of global maritime trade.

Recent attacks by Houthi rebels have persisted on the Red Sea, with the most substantial assault launched on January 9, 2024, indicating a continued threat to maritime traffic in the Red Sea. 

Customers of the Container xChange platform affirm that the shipping lines have raised their slot prices significantly. A Container xChange customer based and operating in Singapore shared on the Red Sea matter that, “Average rate on China-Europe quoted this week is about US$5400/40’HC, up from US$1,500 (3X) just the week before.” 

Container trading spot rates shoot up by 48% in Latin America East in the last 30 days (as on 11 January 2024)

Chart 1: Region-wise container spot rates 30 days delta as on January 12, 2024

Latin America (East and West), Japan & Korea and Europe Mediterranean witness highest increase in Container trading spot rates over the last 30 days.

“We foresee that the rate hikes will flatten out in the mid to long term. We have enough capacity which can be soaked up in longer transit times and yet not cause permanent capacity crunch.” said Roeloffs. 

Demand for Containers shoot up

There is a growing demand for containers in Asia as shippers and forwarders foresee cargo demand in the coming weeks, to fulfil orders ahead of the Chinese New Year. A container manufacturer from China shared with Container xChange, “Shipping companies are demanding more containers now as they avoid red sea. Therefore, Shipping companies and leasing companies have placed more than 750,000 TEU ISO container orders out of China in the last two months.”

Meanwhile, container trading spot rates are increasing at a staggering rate as observed on the Container xChange platform. Spot rates in Shanghai, Hamburg, Boston, in the illustrations below, indicate examples of the steep demand increase that is currently being witnessed for boxes in these hotspots. 

Chart 2: Average container market price for trading in Shanghai
Chart 3: Average container market price for trading in Boston


Chart 4: Average container market price for trading in Hamburg

As an immediate reaction to the disruption, these average container spot rates and prices are expected to rise, but then plateau after reaching a high. 

The container price sentiment Index (xCPSI), a sentiment tool by Container xChange to measure market sentiment for container price development, reached an all-time high as container price anticipation peaks. This indicates that the supply chain professionals are expecting these prices to further shoot up in the coming weeks significantly. 

Chart 5: Container Price Sentiment Index xCPSI 2023-24, xCPSI measures container price sentiment index concurrently amongst the supply chain professionals

The index value peaked at 71 in January from an average of 27 in December, mirroring the significant impact Red Sea attacks have had on prices so far. 

The Ultimate Cost Burden 

The two visible and obvious cost components that are leading to higher transport costs resulting from rerouting to Cape of Good hope are – insurance and fuel costs. 

Insurance for cargo transiting Red Sea has become challenging. On top of it, insurance costs have surged in anticipation of the difficulties and challenges that do not seem to taper off.

Another element is the fuel cost which has increased roughly by 20-23% by way of traveling through the Cape of Good Hope, as compared to the traditional Suez Canal route. 

“Ultimately, the final consumer pays the freight cost. In the short term, usually there is some intermediary that pays the bills, because they have promised at some certain price, but ultimately in normal circumstances, the price per unit is adjusted marginally to the end consumer when such a disruption occurs.” added Roeloffs.

Fine-tuning Inventory management strategies 

“There is always safety stock, that retailers keep, so buffer stock is there. Yes, it soaks up some capacity, but this event doesn’t have the capacity to impact inventory to an extent that we do not see products on the shelves. I don’t see that coming.” added Roeloffs. 

 The shipping and the global trade largely have become relatively more resilient to supply chain shocks as these become evidently more frequent and persistent. 

“As we witness continued disruptions disturbing the global supply chains in the mid to long term, we will see enhanced supply chain resilience.” added Roeloffs. 

The bulk, oil and gas sector have no impact so far whatsoever as the vessels carrying these continue to operate on the Red Sea. There has been no attack on these vessel types. High value container vessels are being diverted, impacting the big east-west trade from Europe to Asia and vice versa. 

So far, Out of 700, some 500 vessels have been diverted soaking up significant capacity from the existing overcapacity that the industry was grappling with. 

As businesses face this new challenge, there are three immediate recommendations that can improve the situation handling currently for companies-

  • Hold Adequate Safety Stocks: Maintaining sufficient safety stocks is crucial for absorbing disruptions without significantly impacting inventory levels.
  • Enhance Flexibility: Operating with multiple networks and suppliers adds resilience, reducing dependency on a single source.
  • Leverage Technology: Embracing technology is paramount for identifying problems in (or almost) real-time and making informed decisions, ensuring a proactive response to disruptions.

 Note of context:

In a troubling turn of events, the Red Sea, a vital artery for global maritime trade, is facing unprecedented disruptions, primarily due to recent attacks by Houthi rebels on ships passing through the region. The Red Sea, with its strategic importance accentuated by the Suez Canal, serves as a crucial superhighway connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa. Recent attacks have escalated operational costs, creating significant challenges for shipping industries and placing downward pressure on profits. The Bab el Mandeb strait, also known as the Gate of Grief, has become a focal point, and its geographical challenges make it a critical chokepoint for maritime traffic. The disruption is not only impacting the flow of goods but also leading to a substantial re-routing of vessels, resulting in increased shipping costs, longer voyages, and environmental concerns.

Impact Highlights:

  • Rerouting Challenges: Vessels are diverting around the Cape of Good Hope, leading to increased fuel costs, environmental concerns, and impacts on shipping efficiency.
  • Shipping Industry Strain: Shipping costs have surged, with a 60 percent drop in vessels passing through the Suez Canal.
  • Oil Tanker Stability: Despite disruptions, oil and fuel tanker traffic in the Red Sea remained stable in December, providing a glimmer of hope for stable energy supply chains.
  • Rising Shipping Costs: The Red Sea crisis is projected to push shipping costs up to 60 percent, coupled with a 20 percent increase in insurance premiums, affecting overall operating costs. 
  • Insurance Challenges: War risk premiums for shipping have surged, impacting transportation costs and potentially leading vessels to seek alternative routes.
  • Re-routing Impact: Re-routing through the Cape of Good Hope results in 10-20 days of delays, adding complexity to logistics and affecting delivery timelines.
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: The Red Sea crisis spotlights broader issues of supply chain disruptions, requiring strategic planning and forecasting by companies to navigate challenges.

As the Red Sea crisis unfolds, the global shipping industry faces unprecedented challenges, necessitating collaborative efforts and strategic solutions to ensure the resilience of supply chains and mitigate the far-reaching impacts on international trade.


new year

Ringing in the New Year: 2021’s Global Logistics Outlook

It’s safe to say that 2020 will not be a year easily forgotten. This past year has been full of adjustment. Around the globe, our personal and work lives were upended with very little warning. As the pandemic spread, spending time with friends and family, water cooler conversations with co-workers, and even dependence on a resilient supply chain turned out to be necessities we had taken for granted. And normal has yet to return.

As the New Year approaches, it’s time to look at ways you can make a smart plan for global shipping in 2021. But, before I share what the outlook for 2021 looks like, I want to say thank you to the ocean and air carriers, port and airport operators, truck drivers, customs agents, and the many other logistics professionals who work hard to bring a little normal to our doorsteps and grocery store shelves.

Current events impacting global shipping in 2021

“By staying on top of supply chain management trends and issues, you can make sure that your company can readily adapt to changes”. — FinancesOnline

Headlines and news can significantly impact trade—either regionally or globally. While it’s impossible to predict all that 2021 has in store, you can at a minimum prepare for the following:

The ongoing Brexit situation

If you export from the EU to the UK and vice-versa, Brexit will mean extra administration chores and delays for your shipments. It is also to be expected that new customs charges and other fees will be introduced as of January 1, 2020.

For more information about Brexit and the impact it may have on your business, read our recent blog on the topic.

Global trade and tariffs

There are several things that may influence trade and tariffs in the coming year.

For example, some significant changes were made to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) recently, most notably that certain Thailand-origin goods are no longer GSP eligible as of December 1, 2020. More broadly, the entire GSP is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020 if Congress does not renew.

Check out our Trade & Tariff Insights for more details on these and other updates.

Global demand for coronavirus vaccines

Of course, similar to 2020, the pandemic may be the largest disruptor on the shipping market again in 2021. Vaccines have started hitting some markets already and full global rollouts are expected in early Q1 2021.

The initial vaccine distribution will also coincide with the Chinese New Year when we historically see a large influx of retail merchandise ahead of the weeklong holiday in China.

With vaccines likely moving via air freight, we expect peripheral products, such as syringes, gauze, cotton to move via ocean, which could mean tightened capacity for both air and ocean shipments.

Expect challenges from 2020 to continue in 2021

Looking at the ongoing events around the world, many of the challenges we’ve experienced in 2020 are not going away—and there are potentially new challenges on the horizon. If there is one thing the supply chain industry needs to learn from these ongoing challenges, it is agility. Supply chains need to be flexible enough to absorb these shocks, major or minor, that comes on its way.

Through our technology and global suite of service offerings, including ocean, air, customs brokerage, trade compliance, and surface transportation, we help customers mitigate the unplanned risks and changes of global shipping. Our people are willing and eager to help you plan for shipping in the coming year.

chinese new year

Here’s How Your Business Can Prepare for Chinese New Year Shutdowns

It’s that time of the year once again where Chinese New Year is around the corner and preparations throughout Asian countries are underway. Countries including Korea and Vietnam are also expected to participate in the Lunar New Year celebrations around the same time as Chinese New Year, requiring other global businesses to consider what preparations need to be made in advance to ensure operations aren’t put to a halt.

In a report from Dachser Logistics, it’s estimated nearly 80 million Chinese workers will be traveling to their hometowns to honor Chinese New Year – also called the “Year of the Rat.” During this time, the Chinese manufacturing infrastructure completely shuts down, from businesses to factories for up to four weeks in the region. Dacher goes on to report that this can impact production for up to two months and lists various ways businesses can be impacted:

-All business during Chinese New Year will face delayed production time, as will quotation requests.

-Many workers will not return to their workplace immediately after the holidays, which means previously estimated production times might be extended.

-If orders are placed late, it is possible they will be placed further back in the production line.

-With more than a month’s worth of orders backed up to start with, factories will favor orders from their preferred partners.

“With the upcoming Chinese New Year period, it is a time of many challenges for importers and exports. Proactive planning and preparation are key to effectively navigate and managing supply chain issues that could occur during this time; ensuring that freight is handled consistently and without interruption. At Dachser, we aim to minimize any impact to our customers.” said Guido Gries Managing Director, Dachser Americas.
“We have reviewed the critical steps that are needed to prepare for Chinese New Year with our customers well in advance. This proactive preparation helps to ensure that there is minimal disruption to their global supply chains.” added Gries.
Dachser Logistics is no stranger to effective planning, however. The leading global logistics provider ensures its customers know exactly what measures can be taken to avoid delays, when holiday business hours take effect and how to keep the supply chain running for each anticipated holiday or possible disruption. These tips are as follows:

-Build up adequate inventory, considering a period of up to four weeks after Chinese New Year and even find out if your Chinese source has inventory in non-Asian locations, so you can use other supply chains.

-Inform your forwarder about your priority shipments, in case there is limited space.

-Book shipments well in advance of Chinese New Year.

-Reserve space on passenger flights for shipments that cannot be delayed. The rates are slightly higher, but this measure will keep your supply chain running.

Source: Dachser Logistics