Last updated: 1/23/2024

Spot Container Rates Now At Pre Pandemic Levels

The Red Sea crisis, characterized by Houthi rebel attacks and coalition airstrikes, has forced container ships into lengthy detours around the Cape of Good Hope. 

This unexpected turn of events has had a profound impact on global container rates, with rates climbing steadily. 

In this blog post, we'll delve into the details of the current container shipping situation, exploring the implications of the Red Sea crisis and its ripple effects on rates worldwide.

The Red Sea Crisis and Its Global Impact:

The Houthi rebel attacks on commercial ships, exemplified by the recent incident involving the Genco Picardy owned by Genco Shipping & Trading, have escalated tensions in the region. 

As a result, container ships are rerouting en masse around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, causing a significant shift in the supply-demand equation. The Drewry World Container Index (WCI) Global Composite has surged to $3,777 per forty-foot equivalent unit, marking a staggering 173% increase year to date.

Contrary to expectations for a challenging year due to an influx of new building deliveries, the container shipping industry is witnessing an unforeseen windfall. 

Linerlytica predicts substantial earnings for carriers in the first quarter of 2024, emphasizing the long-term nature of the situation.

Geopolitical Events and Ocean Shipping Rates:

Ocean shipping rates are highly sensitive to geopolitical events, and the Red Sea crisis has proven to be a game-changer. 

Carriers are committing to navigating around the Cape of Good Hope, acknowledging the situation as a long-term challenge. While most containers move under contract rates, the rise in spot rates is expected to impact contract rates negotiated throughout the year.

Legacy contract rates, currently lower than spot rates, are being adjusted with emergency fees, aligning them more closely with spot rates. The global impact of the Red Sea crisis is evident in the spike in spot rates, affecting not only the lanes directly influenced by diversions but also trades like the Asia-West Coast route.

Index Surges and Global Rate Trends:

The Freightos Baltic Daily Index (FBX) and other indicators reflect the remarkable surge in rates. The FBX global average has reached $3,220 per FEU, showing a substantial 131% year-to-date increase. The Asia-Europe trade, being the most exposed to the Red Sea crisis, has experienced significant spikes in rates. The FBX Asia-Mediterranean and Asia-Northern Europe indices have multiplied several times over, showcasing the severity of the situation.

Rates in the Asia-East Coast trade, directly impacted by Red Sea diversions, have also doubled year to date. The FBX China-East Coast assessment has risen to $5,398 per FEU, while the FBX China-West Coast rate stands at $3,232 per FEU.

Knock-On Effects and Short-Term Rate Trends:

Xeneta's rate data highlights the far-reaching consequences of the Red Sea crisis. Far East-West Coast short-term rates have surged to $3,418 per FEU, marking a 2.2 times increase from pre-COVID levels in 2020. In the Far East-East Coast trade, average short-term rates now stand at $4,890 per FEU, reflecting a substantial 71% increase compared to January 2020.

Platts data further emphasizes the escalating rate trend, with North Asia-Mediterranean and North Asia-North Europe rates reaching $6,500 and $5,200 per TEU, respectively. These rates have quadrupled since December 1, underscoring the severity of the Red Sea crisis's impact on global shipping.


The container shipping industry is navigating through a period of unprecedented challenges, with the Red Sea crisis reshaping the global supply chain. 

Spot rates have soared to record highs, and the impact is felt not only in the directly affected regions but also across the entire industry. 

As geopolitical events continue to influence ocean shipping rates, industry players must adapt to the evolving landscape. 

The coming months will likely see continued fluctuations, emphasizing the need for resilience and strategic planning in the face of unforeseen disruptions.

We are here to help. Reach out to us HERE to find out how we can help you navigate your shipments in the most cost effective way during this time.

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