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Forwarders in China and India continue to face box troubles

LOCAL forwarders are 'busier than ever' trying to secure space as container prices in China and India continue to surge, with leasing platform Container xChange saying that there were 'few signs' of shortages being resolved

04 May 2021 - 19:00
LOCAL forwarders are 'busier than ever' trying to secure space as container prices in China and India continue to surge, with leasing platform Container xChange saying that there were 'few signs' of shortages being resolved.

'In China, average prices for used 20ft containers increased 94 per cent between November and March,' the company said, reports The Loadstar, UK.



At US$2,028 for a 20ft, Dalian is now the most expensive port in China to procure a used box, Container xChange said, as prices in Shanghai had dropped from $2,162 in January to $1,686 last month. Equivalent prices at Qingdao and Tianjin were $1,850 and $1,800, respectively, it added.



David Fan, sales manager at Shanghai-based Twings Supply Chain, said forwarders in China were 'busier than ever' trying to find boxes and space. 'But not because there are more volumes,' he said, 'we have to spend more time and energy just to find the same amount of containers and capacity.'



There's not too much congestion at Chinese ports, added Mr Fan, but vessels were still delayed because schedules were 'not normal'.



'It's going to take more than just a few months for the market to return to pre-pandemic levels - tight space and high freight rates will continue throughout 2021,' he said.



Meanwhile, in India, data from Container xChange shows shortages continuing to drive up prices at major ports.



'Between last June and last month, average used 20ft container prices across Chennai, Mundra and Nhava Sheva rose from $1,106 to $1,755, an increase of 58 per cent,' the company said, adding Chennai was by far the most expensive port, with prices of $2,220 per used container, compared with $1,667 at Mumbai's Nhava Sheva and $1,455 at Mundra.



Noting India's bumper exports last month, the Container Shipping Lines Association India said export volumes were 'about 17-18 per cent' higher than the same month in 2019, and that carriers had repositioned some 100,000 empty containers to India.



Nevertheless, the situation on the ground for some local forwarders is far from ideal. One Mumbai-based firm said the situation was 'pathetic', with delays, cargo rollovers and high prices.



'The shortage of containers at any given time is 100,000,' he claimed. 'Even when you can get a container and a booking, shipping lines are overselling space. One customer's cargo was rolled recently, and the order was cancelled because they couldn't afford airfreight. So, they had to de-stuff and return the container at a huge cost.



'There's no accountability when shipping lines offload due to overselling. Everyone takes advantage,' the forwarder added.


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