The container shipping market has remained under strong pressure since early 2021. The events of the previous year had an unprecedented impact on many global economic sectors, and sea freight shipping was no exception. The decline in demand usually expected after the Chinese New Year did not occur this time. The grounding of a container ship in the Suez Canal in March was a significant factor behind the current sea freight crisis and has provoked further turbulence and an increase in rates.
Analytical data on the Asia-Europe trade lane has shown an increase in spot prices by 199% from the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021. Here we ask Nataliya Khmyrova, Head of the AsstrA Container Transportation Department in Ukraine, for details on the current sea freight market conditions.
Tell us about the challenges that the shipping sector has faced over the past six months.
In 2021, sea freight market conditions have remained unstable. In April, rates rose along every global trade corridor. And it is unlikely that the situation will improve anytime soon. According to experts, rates will continue to rise until at least the end of the year. Delivery times have also increased and there are constant schedule interruptions that complicate the transport organization process.
What sea routes from Ukraine are are the most popular among AsstrA clients? For which products?
Imports from China to Ukraine are the most popular. Especially for consumer goods, equipment, construction machinery, and agricultural machinery. We also see significant demand for household appliances, electronics, building materials, agricultural equipment, and seeds imported from the USA, Canada, and Argentina, and to a lesser but considerable extent from India, Türkiye, and Malaysia. Popular exports from Ukraine include light industry goods, metals, food, and alcoholic beverages.
Please share tips on how to cope with these turbulent times.
Despite the rise in prices, demand for sea transport is not decreasing. The AsstrA team is constantly looking for containers and places on ships for clients. Based on the experience we have gained during the pandemic so far, it is necessary to always be analyzing new challenges and thinking of creative ways to solve what appear to be unsolvable problems. Logistics professionals, like the goods they are working with, should stay in constant motion. In these unstable conditions, it is critically important to keep a cool head and work with reliable, likeminded logistics partners who can rise to the occasion and get the job done regardless of the stress.