Maersk: Repositioning costs often prohibitive
Maersk Line said it expects continued strong growth in U.S. and Canadian exports to the Far East next year.
But the company said in the transpacific trade, “the main dilemma is that import containers move to industrialized areas, while a majority of equipment for export is required in agricultural areas. The cost for repositioning is often prohibitive, thus many containers return to Asia empty. This further pushes westbound rates upwards — and the success of recent rate increases demonstrate this trend.”
Maersk made its comment in response to questions about its announcement that it was implementing a general rate increase on Jan. 1 on U.S. and Canadian exports to countries in the Far East. The increase was $160 for 20-foot dry containers; $200 for 40-foot boxes, including high cubes; and $220 for 45-foot high-cubes.
The company said its internal research “generally agrees” with projections from Drewry Shipping Consultants that Pacific westbound trade in 2007 would exceed 6 million units, up 12.3 percent from 2006, and that the increase in 2008 would be 13.7 percent year-on-year.
“U.S. exports have soared in 2007 due to the low value of the U.S. dollar, and 2008 promises to be the same,” Maersk said. “Meanwhile bulk shipping rates have increased to an extent that many breakbulk cargoes such as grain, a natural U.S.-to-Far East export commodity, have begun moving in containers. This influx of new business has made equipment scarce, even on the Pacific backhaul trade.”
But the company said getting those boxes to areas where grain is loaded is often cost prohibitive.