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Descartes Releases April Global Shipping Report: March U.S. Import Container Volume Continues Strong Trajectory

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Descartes Releases April Global Shipping Report: March U.S. Import Container Volume Continues Strong Trajectory

Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its April Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. In March 2024, U.S. container import volumes increased 0.4% from February, but jumped 15.7% when compared to the same month last year, indicating exceptional growth when considering the impact of the Chinese Lunar New Year on the second half of March.

Compared to February 2024, imports from China continued to decline because of the Chinese Lunar New Year, reflected by a significant volume loss at the Port of Los Angeles for the second consecutive month. Port transit delays continue to improve as the drought in Panama and Middle East conflict have yet to impact East and Gulf Coast ports. April’s update of logistics metrics monitored by Descartes show that the first quarter of 2024 has been a strong start for U.S. container imports; however, concerns around global supply chain performance are still expected throughout the year because of ongoing conditions at the Panama and Suez Canals, upcoming labor negotiations at U.S. South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, Middle East conflict, and the impact of the Baltimore Bridge collapse which remains to be fully reflected in U.S. container import volume data.

U.S. container imports maintain year-over-year strength.

March 2024 U.S. container import volumes remained mostly flat from February 2024, increasing only 0.4% to 2,145,341 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) (see Figure 1). Versus March 2023, however, TEU volume was higher by 15.7%, and up 20.6% from pre-pandemic March 2019, demonstrating that year-over-year performance remains strong. The Chinese Lunar New Year may have masked even stronger growth as it occurred on February 11 and the holiday extended the entire week, which means its impact on U.S. imports did not occur until the second half of March 2024. For a more representative view, Descartes compared the first 15 days of March 2024 to the same time period in 2023 as these time periods were less likely to be impacted by the Chinese Lunar New Year. In this timeframe, U.S. container import growth was 22.7%.

Figure 1. U.S. Container Import Volume Year-over-Year Comparison

A graph of different colored linesDescription automatically generated
Source: Descartes Datamyne™

 “Considering declining import volumes from China, March 2024 was a strong month and continues the robust performance that began in January 2024,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry, Descartes. “Despite the combined effect of the Panama drought and the conflict in the Middle East, port transit delays showed continued improvement across nearly all the top ports, as March volumes at East and Gulf Coast ports remained stable.”

The April report is Descartes’ thirty-second installment since beginning its analysis in August 2021. To read past reports, learn more about the key economic and logistics factors driving the global shipping crisis, and review strategies to help address it in the near-, short- and long-term, visit Descartes’ Global Shipping Resource Center.

intermodal cargo shipping container import logistics chain port containers

The Intermodal Association of North America and the Bureau International des Containers Expand Collaboration to North America Geofencing

The Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) and the Bureau International des Containers (BIC) are extending their collaboration on container facility identification, which began in 2021, to include geofencing. IANA will take the leadership role in collecting and reviewing geofence coordinates for North American intermodal facilities for inclusion in the global BIC Facility Code database and in the IANA Intermodal Facilities Directory.

The BIC Facility Code database is a global database of over 17,000 container facilities and provides a facility name and address, latitude/longitude point and harmonized facility code. As part of the 2021 harmonization exercise, the locations in IANA’s North American Intermodal Facility database were assigned a global BIC Facility Code, and an API synchronization was put in place.

The database is being expanded to include geofences coordinates to help support the industry’s adoption of smart containers. The methodology and recommendations for the project were developed by a global working group assembled by the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and includes ocean carriers, IoT providers, and software platforms.

The objective is to provide a neutral open library of geofences linked to container handling facilities to ensure that all parties in the supply chain can reference the same geofence for a facility regardless of the provider or platform they may be using, thus improving reliability, interoperability as well as safety and security.

BIC staff will attend IANA’s Intermodal EXPO in Long Beach, September 11-13 to explain the new platform and to assist depot and terminal operators/owners in setting up geofences for their facilities.

New Leases Will Make State-Owned Properties Available for Storing Up to 20,000 Shipping Containers to Help Alleviate National Supply Chain Issues

The Newsom administration announced today that six California sites have been identified and leases have been signed to allow for the storage of shipping containers on state property to help alleviate congestion at California ports.

The effort is a result of Executive Order N-19-21, which aims to strengthen the resilience of California’s and the nation’s supply chains.

“California has taken swift action to keep goods moving at the state’s ports, leveraging our strategic partnerships to develop multifaceted solutions, including securing additional storage space for thousands of shipping containers,” said Governor Newsom. “These efforts are a vital investment to help meet the needs of not only Californians, but our entire nation, and we’ll continue advancing innovative solutions to address this global challenge.”

Chunker, the national warehouse marketplace, has leased the six sites from the California Department of General Services for one year, with an option for a second year. The sites include three armories (in Lancaster, Palmdale and Stockton), a former prison site (Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy), and two fairground sites (San Joaquin County and Antelope Valley Fairgrounds). Chunker will coordinate between California ports, shipping/trucking companies, and cargo owners to help move containers and free up needed space elsewhere.

“The unprecedented challenges we face to resolve supply chain issues require action, and today’s announcement is just one of the many ways the administration is working to ease congestion to help keep goods moving,” said Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of California’s Government Operations Agency.

Department of General Services Director Ana M. Lasso said her department is continuing to build on partnerships to ease supply chain issues.

“California is on top of prioritizing the storage needs that have slowed distribution at ports on our coast,” she said.

Since the governor signed Executive Order N-19-21 in October, notable actions have included:

  • A strategic partnership between the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation for up to $5 billion in loan financing to advance a comprehensive, statewide portfolio of freight, goods movement and supply chain resiliency projects.
  • Issuing temporary permits allowing trucks to carry increased loads on state highway and interstate routes between the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and other statewide ports to expedite transport of international commerce between ports and distribution centers.
  • Doubling the Department of Motor Vehicles’ capacity to conduct commercial driving tests to address the national shortage of workers in the industry.

Securing a 22-acre pop-up site, in partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, located at the Port of Oakland to assist agricultural exporters in storing products and getting them onto containers. This site is expected to be operational on March 1.

“The ongoing supply chain crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, as we work with our partners to meet the needs of California’s families and businesses,” said Dee Dee Myers, Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “By creating additional storage space for shipping containers, we can relieve some of the congestion at our ports, keep our imports and exports flowing and strengthen our economy.”

In addition, the Governor’s California Blueprint proposes $2.3 billion for supply chain investments next fiscal year, including $1.2 billion for port, freight, and goods movement infrastructure and $1.2 billion for other related areas such as workforce training and zero-emission vehicle equipment and infrastructure related to the supply chain.

This funding would improve supply chain resiliency and be used to leverage federal funding.

The state also worked with the Biden-Harris administration to implement a new 24/7 environment across the supply chain, to improve collaboration, and to explore policies to remove obstacles and improve the movement of goods.

“Container storage is a major component of the congestion at the ports as well as a part of the nationwide supply chain crisis,” said Brad Wright, CEO of Chunker. “We are thrilled to partner with Governor Newsom and the state of California to create a solution that will have a major impact on the problem. Having access to the state property will allow us to store 20,000 containers or more, which will free up a significant amount of space at the ports.”


Traxens Raises 23M€ and Acquires NEXT4 To Become the World Leader of Shipping Container Tracking

TRAXENS, the leading smart-container service provider for
the global supply chain industry, announced today a new financing round of €23 million ($25+ million) from the company’s existing shareholders. The funds will be used to fuel Traxens’ international expansion starting with the acquisition of NEXT4, a fast-growing French supplier of removable and reusable shipping container trackers.

Traxens’ Internet-of-Things (IoT) solution is based on a breakthrough technology that enables access to the most comprehensive, precise and timely data for managing assets in transit anywhere in the world. In addition to tracking container geolocation, it detects shocks and monitors temperature and humidity, as well as the open-or-closed status of container doors.

The acquisition, confirmed today, will allow Traxens to streamline and merge NEXT4’s offering into its suite of solutions, providing customers with the best of both solutions — including shipments scheduling, collaborative risk management, and analysis reports. The newly consolidated company is now the market frontrunner in providing overseas cargo visibility and offers Traxens’ customers a technological edge in container tracking solutions.

“Integrating NEXT4 into our company dramatically increases our ability to serve the growing needs of our customers as they digitalize their business processes, while adding freight visibility, cargo security and goods integrity,” said Traxens CEO David Marchand.

Founded in Toulouse in 2018, NEXT4 provides trackers that can be attached to containers from point of origin to the final destination. This provides freight forwarders with a premium tracking solution and gives customers 24/7, real-time data on the status and location of their goods via sensors inside the containers.

Tens of thousands of NEXT4 trackers have been adopted by leading freight forwarders such as Bolloré Logistics and DB Schenker. Airlines have also approved the latest version of its trackers, a smaller and more versatile device, that allows them to be adapted to the needs of the air freight industry.

The €23 million round of financing follows a Series C funding round of approximately €20M ($22.7M) raised in 2019. This new acquisition will enable the consolidated French company to continue deploying its smart-containers worldwide, while building new relationships with major players in the supply chain, including companies focused on container leasing, insurance and
transport management systems.

As it moves into new markets in the U.S., South America and Asia, Traxens will also use the funding to further expand its portfolio of solutions to address the increasing needs of freight forwarders and beneficial cargo owners (BCO) for supply chain transparency.

“Joining the Traxens group enables us to market our innovative solution on an internationalNEXT4 will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Traxens with offices in Toulouse. In addition
to remaining as CEO of NEXT4, Rosemont will serve as Traxens’ chief marketing officer. scale and to jointly develop new products and solutions with their team,” said NEXT4 CEO and founder Cédric Rosemont. “Our highly complementary solutions will meet the current and future challenges of shippers and their logistics providers. This means NEXT4’s customers also can benefit from Traxens’ solutions, which are now being widely deployed by container owners.”

NEXT4 will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Traxens with offices in Toulouse. In addition to remaining as CEO of NEXT4, Rosemont will serve as Traxens’ chief marketing officer.

Both CEOs will be available for interviews about this strategic merger at the TPMTECH (Feb.24-25) and TPM22 (Feb. 27-March 2) trade shows in Long Beach, Calif.

baton rouge


Despite a worldwide pandemic, three successful projects were completed at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in 2020: a major expansion of shipping container storage capacity; delivery of a custom-made, deep-reach stacker for transloading containers into and out of barges; and the opening of a $22 million railcar chambering yard.

Last year, more than 16,000 containers moved through the Louisiana port, more than double the volume of 2017 when the service began. In the process, SEACOR AMH LLC transports empty containers from Memphis to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge via barge to be loaded with resin from area plants, and then moves the loaded barges downriver to the Port of New Orleans for international transport. 

This rapid increase in container volumes prompted the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to increase the size of its container storage facility. The $5 million expansion created nearly 4 acres of additional paved container storage capacity and gave the port the ability to store about 2,000 containers.

A 20% efficiency gain in its container operations was just one positive outcome of the port’s new, deep-reach container stacker known as The Big Red Beast. With its telescopic boom for stacking four containers high, shorter loading and unloading times have helped meet the increasing demand for container shipping services for area customers in the petrochemical industry sector, says Port Executive Director Jay Hardman. Financed almost 100% by a Maritime Administration grant, the one-of-a-kind Beast was designed and manufactured specifically for the port by Taylor Machine Works of Louisville, Mississippi.

The railcar chambering yard was completed in 2020 on port property south of the Intracoastal Waterway. The yard facilitates the storage of railcars and expedites the arrival and departure of unit trains of 80 or more railcars into and out of the port. The chambering yard currently facilitates delivery by rail of wood pellets to tenant Drax Biomass for export overseas. Grön Fuels, which recently announced plans to build a $9.2 billion renewable fuels complex at the site, is also planning the utilization of the rail chambering yard.

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is the head of deepwater navigation on the Mississippi River; a 45-foot shipping channel to the mouth of the Mississippi River is maintained by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The port’s deepwater terminal on the Mississippi is currently capable of docking three deep-draft vessels simultaneously. 


Port leadership recently applied to the Louisiana Department of Transportation Port Construction and Development Priority Program (PCDPP) for a $15 million rehabilitation/expansion of its “Northern Berth” on the Mississippi River that would allow for the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to have a fourth deep draft vessel berth at its northernmost point.


Israel: Transport Costs and Customs Duty – It’s On You

In the past year, sea freight prices have risen sharply, an increase that has not been remembered for many years.

Thus, according to various publications, about a year ago, renting a container for sea transportation from China to Israel, costs about $2,000, and today, the same transportation costs about $15,000.

According to publications, the reasons for this significant increase are due to the COVID-19 crisis, global shortages of ships, declining competition in the field, and containers of contagious demand. In addition, there is a “Made of Israel” reason, due to the congestion at ports in Israel, there are ships that prefer not to dock in Israel, and the number of ships that can dock in Israel is even smaller[1].

Apart from the increase in transportation costs, which is expected to lead to a wave of price increases in the sale of products in Israel, there is another parameter that is slightly pushed to the margins. That is the increase in the value of goods for customs purposes, due to rising transportation prices. This increase in prices leads to further collection of customs duties, purchase tax, and import taxes, due to the increase in value.

As I will present in this review, in my opinion – Israeli law already allows the state to facilitate importers at this point – and similar other facilitations have been made in the past. All that is required is the flexibility and activation of goodwill on the part of the state when interpreting the law.

How is the value of the goods determined for customs and import taxes in the State of Israel?

Section 132 (a) of the Israeli Customs Ordinance [new version], stipulates that the value of the transaction is: “the price paid or to be paid for the goods, when sold for export to Israel … plus the expenses and amounts specified in section 133 …”.

Section 133 of the Ordinance, which refers to “assists” to the transaction price for customs purposes, enumerates a large number of examples, one of which, relevant to its case, relates to transportation costs, and subscribes to section 133 (a)(5)(a) of the Ordinance, which relates to:

The following costs involved in bringing the goods to the port of import or place of import – (a) The cost of transporting the goods to the port of import or place of import, excluding such costs incurred due to special circumstances beyond the control of the importer and the Director determining not to include them in the transaction; This includes types of goods, types of transportation and other services”.

And subsection 133 (a)(5)(c) – “The cost of insurance“.

That is, if we try to compare this to the terms of sale of Incoterms, it seems that the State of Israel has determined that the customs duty will be levied on the value of CIF (cost, insurance & freight), i.e. the value of the goods including transport and insurance.

How is the value determined for customs, worldwide?

It should be noted that there is no uniform rule in this matter.

Most countries in the world are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO), and by virtue of their membership, have signed an international agreement on the valuation of goods for customs purposes[2].

The agreement sets out a number of rules regarding the way goods are valued for customs purposes, but it does not stipulate any binding rules regarding transportation.

There are countries where the value on which the customs duty is imposed is FOB (free on board), that is, without the sea transport, and there are countries where the value on which the customs duty is imposed is CIF, including the transport.

For comparison, in the United States, a different method is used than in the State of Israel, and in the United States, customs duties are imposed on the value without sea transportation. Thus, the corresponding section in American law to section 132 of the Customs Ordinance in Israel, which deals with the “transaction price”, states in US law that[3]:

The transaction value of imported merchandise is the price actually paid or payable for the merchandise when sold for exportation to the United States ..”

As for transportation costs, American law goes on to state that the value to customs will not include them:

“(3) The transaction value of imported merchandise does not include any of the following if identified separately from the price actually paid or payable and from any cost or other item referred to in paragraph (1): (A) Any reasonable cost or charge that is incurred for

 (ii) the transportation of the merchandise after such importation. “

Hence, it seems that in the US, an increase in freight rates does not increase the value of the goods for customs purposes.

In Israel, on the other hand, any increase in freight also embodies the increase in value to customs, and, accordingly, increases the customs burden imposed on the importer.

That is, if we assume for the purpose of the example, that a spare part for a car is subject to a purchase tax of about 20% of the value to customs, then any increase of $1,000 in transportation prices embodies an additional purchase tax of 200$ by the State of Israel. Since this is an indirect tax, it will, by its very nature, ultimately be passed on to the entire public, in the form of rising prices.

 How has the State of Israel dealt with such similar situations in the past?

Price increases in the field of transportation can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. Among other things, wars, closures, sanctions, strikes, and a host of other reasons may increase transportation prices.

In this regard, section 133 (a)(5) of the Customs Ordinance stipulates that in exceptional situations, the director of customs may not include in the value of customs certain transportation costs. The law calls them:

such costs incurred due to special circumstances over which the importer has no control and the manager has determined that they should not be included in the value of the transaction

These are, in fact, transportation costs that are a kind of “force majeure” that the importer did not have the ability to prevent.

It should be noted that the Customs Authority exercised this authority, and sometimes exempted transport costs, due to certain circumstances.

On April 24th, 2006, Customs ruled that transportation costs due to the Second Lebanon War would not be included in the customs entry:

In accordance with my authority under section 133 (a) (5) (a) of the Customs Ordinance, I stipulate that war levies and additional transportation costs incurred by importers due to the security incidents in the north of the country, should not be included in the value of the transaction for the purpose of calculating the import taxes. It is clarified that these are additional transportation, unloading and loading costs listed in the cargo account that were caused due to the security incidents.”

On June 6th, 2008, the Customs ruled that the container demurrage fee beyond the agreed, will not be included in the customs entry:

“..The demurrage fee in the importing country, which is charged for the use of the container beyond the agreed period between the ship’s agent and the importer, will not be included for import taxes.”

On September 7th, 2008, Customs exempted certain transportation costs in respect of strikes from being included in the customs entry, stating:

In accordance with my authority under section 133 (a) (5) (a) of the Customs Ordinance, I provide that additional transportation costs incurred by importers due to sanctions in the ports of Israel, will not be considered for the transaction value for the purpose of calculating import taxes. It is clarified that these are additional transportation, unloading and loading costs listed in the cargo account, which were caused due to the sanctions and the importer has no control over them. The importer must prove the existence of such additional costs.”

Can the state of Israel also help in the current situation?

According to the publications, the Israeli Chamber of Commerce recently appealed to the director of customs to exercise his authority, and set a type of ceiling on which customs would be imposed, even if in practice transport costs are currently more expensive, and this application was denied by customs[4].

Customs stated that this was a request to reduce the actual cost of transport – something that is not possible, noting that when it came to a request to reduce additions to the value of transport, such as vessels that declared “end of journey” in Cyprus and refrained from entering Israel due to the COVID-19 crisis. Customs further stated that it has not been proven that the increase in transportation prices is due to the COVID-19 or an unforeseen situation, therefore no reduction can be made under the exception in section 133 (a)(5) of the Customs Ordinance, and even claimed that if the State of Israel accepts the claim, this will be a breach of the International Agreement on the Valuation of Goods

**So the question is basically: can in the present case, transportation costs raised by tens or hundreds of percent, due to global COVID-19 crisis, shortage of ships, heavy loads in Israeli ports, shortage of containers, constitute “special circumstances beyond the importer’s control”?

** With all due respect, in my opinion, this point deserves further thought and discussion**

In my opinion, if the Second Lebanon War is an unforeseen event over which the importer has no control, as well as sanctions or strikes, then the interpretation of the law could be a little more flexible, and determined that a global COVID-19 crisis, shortage of ships, containers, To be considered as special circumstances over which the importer has no control.

In this regard, I would like to bring to the readers’ attention a ruling given in the Israeli court on another issue, but it was stated in it, in relation to the Corona crisis, that it is certainly an unexpected event[5]:

It is hard to believe that the reasonable person could or should have expected the full far-reaching consequences of the Corona epidemic, including on the economy and commercial life, in Israel and around the world. We are dealing with an unparalleled epidemic which has no precedent in the last hundred years (at least since the Spanish Flu epidemic which caused many deaths around the world between the years 1918 – 1920)”.

** These right things, can and should be applied, in my opinion – also in the field of international trade and customs valuation.

Does anyone in the Customs Authority believe that the simple, lone importer, even if it is a wealthy business company, has any control over the changes in world freight rates? Could any importer have anticipated the corona crisis?

**In the end, if my opinion will be adopted, the legal solution is to relieve the importers of the customs duty imposed on the transport that has become more expensive – it already exists. The “invention of the wheel” is not required here.

Now only goodwill is required, and little flexibility in interpreting the law.



[2] Customs Valuation Agreement (Implementation of Article VII of the GATT)

[3] Tariff act of 1930, 19. U.S.C. §1401 a(b)(1),(3)


[5] Hdlt (Tel-Aviv) 26076-02-20 Adv. Israel Bachar vs. comfortability systems (2007) Ltd. (July 8th, 2020);

demurrage D&D voyager


Demurrage and detention charges imposed on shippers by container lines have soared at unprecedented rates globally over the last year, according to the Demurrage & Detention Benchmark 2021 report published today by Container xChange, the world’s leading online platform for the leasing and trading of shipping containers,

However, the hikes are hugely inconsistent, with large differences apparent both by port and by carrier.

Across the world’s 20 largest container ports, the report found that average Demurrage and Detention (D&D) fees levied by container lines on customers two weeks after a box was discharged from the vessel more than doubled across ports and shipping lines between March 2020 and March 2021, climbing 104% or the equivalent of $666 per container across all container types.

None of the world’s top 20 ports by throughput saw a decrease in D&D fees over the period.

On average, D&D charges (see definitions below) in March this year were $720 per box across standard container types two weeks after the box discharge from the vessel.

“Demurrage and detention prices have always been an area of conflict between shippers and carriers and that tension has reached a new level this year as costs have spiraled,” said co-founder of Container xChange Christian Roeloffs.

“The key to minimizing D&D is to create transparency around the fees. With shippers informed about the costs associated with D&D, they’ll be able to make business decisions and enter negotiations informed of the accurate costs and per diems. We hope this report gives all parties increased transparency.”


To compile the report Container xChange collected more than 20,000 data points from publicly available sources. These were used to compare D&D rates imposed on customers by the world’s ten largest shipping lines across the world’s top-20 container ports. The data was then compared against data collected by Container xChange in March 2020.

The ten leading Chinese ports experienced a +126% increase in average D&D charges from March 2020 to March 2021. Qingdao saw the biggest rise in D&D rates, up 194% year-on-year, followed by Dalian where shippers suffered an average increase of +187%.

However, D&D charges in China remain far lower than in many other leading ports with seven of the top 10 cheapest ports located in the country. By contrast, average D&D fees two weeks after discharge at the Port of Long Beach in March were $2638, the most expensive in the world. In second place was neighboring Los Angeles at $2593.

“In the US, the Federal Maritime Commission is now looking into the practices of the container shipping industry and searching for ways to ensure that container users, many of whom feel they have been charged unfairly by carriers for D&D, can be refunded,” said Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier, CEO & Founder of the container leasing and trading platform. “Certainly, D&D rates have been accelerating, adding to the burden on shippers and industry on top of record container rates and global container shortages.”

Rotterdam had an average D&D rate in March of $756, Singapore was $615, and Antwerp was $709.

At the bottom of the spectrum was Busan (South Korea) with average D&D charges of only $132 in March this year. The next cheapest after the South Korean port were the Chinese ports of Dalian and Tianjin both with averages of $201.

Variations by carrier within ports

D&D charges do not just vary by port, they also vary by shipping line within each port. At the port of Los Angeles, which has been central to the chaos evident on the trans-Pacific container trade over the past year, average D&D charges increased by +142,7% from March 2020 to March 2021. CMA CGM’s D&D rates increased the most, up 167% over the period. Maersk was a close second, with its customers seeing a 161% increase in D&D charges.

By contrast, COSCO, unlike the other carriers in the Port of Los Angeles, lowered its average D&D fees by 15% over the period from $1417 in March last year to 2020 to $1213 in March 2021.

In Hamburg, meanwhile, the cheapest carrier in March this year was CMA CGM, which charged $258 in D&D after two weeks. Yang Ming was the most expensive line with rates of $1612.

Globally, the cheapest combination of carrier and port was COSCO and the Port of Busan in South Korea. The most expensive combination was CMA CGM at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

southern china

Container Availability Slumps in Southern China Ports on COVID Lockdowns

Ports in southern China impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns that are further disrupting the global box trade have seen a significant slump in container availability in the last two weeks, according to the latest data from Container xChange.

Pearl River Delta port productivity has slumped in recent weeks with container lines citing positive Covid-19 cases for slowing productivity.

Yantian and Shekou ports, near Shenzhen, and Nansha port, part of the Guangzhou box hub, have been most affected. All three have seen significant drops in container availability in the last two weeks, according to Container xChange, the world’s leading online platform for the leasing and trading of shipping containers.

“Far few empty boxes are arriving back to southern China as container lines skip calls and many shippers will likely face long delays or higher prices for equipment if they can’t avoid using the affected ports,” said Dr. Johannes Schlingmeiner.

Yantian saw a 19% drop in incoming containers between Week 17 and last week (Week 22). Nansha’s drop in incoming containers over the same period was 16.4%, while at Shekou the plunge was 29.6%.

Each of the ports also suffered major week-on-week drops in incoming boxes with an average change between Week 21 and Week 22 of -4.1% at Yantian, -16.7% at Shekou and -10% at Nansha.

In Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx) an index reading of below 0.5 means more containers leave a port compared to the number which enter. Above 0.5 means more containers are entering the port.

At Yantian, the CAx reading for a 40 ft dry container was 0.61 in Week 17 but fell to 0.47 in Week 22. At Shekou and Nansha similar drops were apparent over the same time period for most equipment types.

“Our forecasts suggest container availability at these ports in southern China will not increase in the coming weeks as more container lines cancel calls,” said Dr Johannes Schlingmeiner.

“We expect container prices in those areas to increase and many shippers will likely turn to Shipper Owned Containers (SOC) which are still available on our exchange.”


About the Container Availability Index:

The Container Availability Index monitors and forecasts global container equipment supply by tracking millions of monthly container moves. For more information and weekly email updates, check out:

About Container xChange:

Container xChange operates the leading online platform for the leasing and trading of shipping containers. More than 600 shipping companies including Kuehne+Nagel, Seaco and Sarjak rely on its platform to increase flexibility and simplify the operational handling of SOC Containers. Founded by Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier and Christian Roeloffs in 2017 and headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, the company now has more than 100 employees.



For European exporters looking to source shipping containers, existing shortages could deteriorate significantly in the coming weeks, according to the latest data from Container xChangethe world’s leading online platform for the leasing and trading of shipping containers.

Most pricing and availability indicators now suggest carriers are continuing to favor shipping empties back to Asia as fast as possible to maximize yields on front-haul services rather than wait for less lucrative backhaul loads.

The upshot for shippers is rapidly rising prices in Europe for containers even though CAx availability readings point to higher availability of boxes in European hubs – Container xChange figures do not track empty moves.

“The confluence of theoretical high availability and soaring prices for boxes strongly indicates that container lines are prioritizing empty containers over export cargo from Europe,” said Dr Johannes Schlingmeier.

“There were signs of this even before the Suez Canal closure in late March. The latest figures suggest the additional disruption this caused has exacerbated the situation and made it even harder for exporters to find empties.”

The latest container trading data reveals that between January and April average prices for used 20 ft. containers across Europe rose 57% from $1348 to $2119.

In April, price increases for 20 ft. containers were especially severe. In Antwerp, prices jumped by 30% compared to March. In Hamburg they rose by 16% over the same period while in Rotterdam they increased 12%.

Since the beginning of May, average prices for 20 ft. dry containers in Europe softened slightly to $2249 from $2110 in April. However, prices for 40 ft. dry containers have again increased this month, up 13% to $3112 from $2750 in April.

In Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx) an index reading of below 0.5 means more containers leave a port compared to the number which enters. Above 0.5 means more containers are entering the port.

At the port of Genoa, the average CAx reading for a 20 ft. box in 2021 is 0.71, up from 0.26 through the first half of 2020. At Hamburg, in 2021 the average CAx reading has so far this year is 0.75, compared to 0.39 in 1H 2020, while at Rotterdam the reading is 0.71 so far this year, versus 0.46 a year earlier.

After a short dip in incoming containers to Europe due to the Suez Canal closure as measured by Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx), inbound volumes are expected to increase again.

CAx readings for week 19 decreased by on average 4.5% to values of 0.85 across dry-container sizes in Hamburg, 0.79 in Rotterdam, and 83.5 in Antwerp, indicating an ongoing surplus of incoming boxes.

“According to Container xChange forecasts, an increase in incoming shipping containers by 4-5% over the next weeks is likely to not only increase CAx readings but also contribute to slowly decreasing container prices again,” said Dr Schlingmeier.

“These are good times for equipment owners across Europe as indications are that even if container prices dip slightly, scarcity will remain until carriers change tack and start looking for more backloads. As a result, container prices are likely to remain at elevated levels for some time, although we do think availability for exporters will improve in the coming months.”

suez canal

Container xChange: Suez Canal Closure Increases the Pressure on Europe’s Ports

The anticipated box crunch at European ports following the closure of the Suez Canal at the end of March has been less severe than expected, according to Container xChange.

However, Europe’s leading box hubs are still receiving far more boxes than are departing.

The average CAx reading of incoming 20-foot dry-containers across three of Europe’s biggest ports – Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg – climbed just 3% in week 17 compared to the week before.

At Rotterdam, the increase in incoming 20 ft. dry containers was most stark, with box numbers rising +3.75% week-on-week. At Antwerp, the week-on-week increase was +3.5%, while at Hamburg it was +2.2%.

At all three ports, incoming box traffic has been heavy since March. In Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx) an index reading of below 0.5 means more containers leave a port compared to the number which enter. Above 0.5 means more containers are entering the port.

Chart: Container Availability Index for 20 ft. Dry-Containers at the ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam, Felixstowe, and Hamburg in 2021. For more info, click here.

Hamburg has recorded a CAx reading of above 0.8 since week 9 of this year. In week 17 its CAx reading was 0.93, up from 0.48 in week 1. Rotterdam’s CAx reading has also risen steadily in 2021, climbing from 0.65 in week 1 to 0.74 in week 9 and up to 0.83 in week 17.

Antwerp, meanwhile, recorded a CAx of 0.38 at the start of the year, 0.78 in week 9 and 0.9 in week 17.

In contrast, the situation at heavily-congested Felixstowe has been dire all year. The hub’s lowest CAx this year was 0.87 in week 3. In week 17 it recorded a CAx of 0.95, up from 0.94 in week 16.

Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier, CEO & Founder of Container xChange, the world’s leading container leasing and trading platform, commented:

“Europe’s top container terminals have been struggling to keep congestion at bay, with incoming boxes outweighing outgoing boxes for much of 2021. The closure of the Suez Canal appears to have only made the box crunch at Europe’s hubs only slightly worse than it already was.

“What we’re hearing from our container leasing and trading members is that they find it increasingly difficult to book export containers with the carriers across Europe. It seems shipping lines are prioritizing empty containers in order to move the boxes back to China as fast as possible.”


About the Container Availability Index:

The Container Availability Index tracks millions of monthly container moves to monitor and forecast the global container equipment supply. An index of 0.5 describes a balanced market, below 0.5 a shortage of containers. For more information and weekly email updates, check out

About Container xChange:

Container xChange is the world’s leading online platform used by 600+ companies to buy, sell and lease shipping containers. Container users and owners use the platform to find containers, work with vetted partners and automate the operational workload. Started by Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier and Christian Roeloffs in 2017, the company has now more than 100+ employees with headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.