Shipping in 2024

The situation in international transport is constantly changing. Various incidents disrupt the global supply chain. Freight is up and down all the time, and one of the reasons is the demand for the transport service. What is the outlook for shipping in 2024?

Shipping in 2024

Manu importers remember how expensive the freight in 2021-2022 was. In 2023, container freight, especially from China to Europe and the US, got cheaper. Importers took advantage of the low freight, but the situation has changed.

Freight rates are likely to increase, the question to what extent. We therefore encourage you to import and ship cargo now, before the freight increases significantly again.

Shipowners difficulties

Due to the declining demand, the ships remain idle or are dispatched, not being used to their full capacity. Ways they shipowners reduce losses include:

  • vessel demolitions
  • delaying the delivery of new ships
  • slow steaming
  • idling ships
  • canceling sailings (blankings)
  • personnel layoffs.

Another issue is the changing environmental protection policy, which forces shipowners to replace their fleet with a more environmentally friendly one.

It is estimated that despite the increase in global TEU volumes by 3-4% and the global fleet by approximately 8% (up to 2.7 million TEU) in 2024, the demand will be low. What does it mean? The market will become very competitive as shipowners strive to attract as many customers as possible.

Sea freight problems

Maritime transport accounts for approximately 80% of the volume of international cargo traffic, so it is crucial for the correct operation of the global supply chain. If transportation through checkpoints, such as the Panama Canal or the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the Red Sea, is obstructed, the transit time gets longer, and freight is higher globally. It is expected that strikes at US ports and other places will take place in 2024, which will cause shipping delays in the region.

Due to the current situation in the Middle East, less throughput is observed in southern Europe, especially in ports in Greece, Italy, and Slovenia. This, in consequence, results in longer waiting times for boxes ready for loading. Delays at ports generate higher demurrage fees.

Natural disasters and shipping

Climate change affects the transportation of goods. Natural disasters disrupt the global supply chain, leading to transportation cut-offs, shortages of raw materials, and factory shutdowns. 

Hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, wildfires, droughts – these phenomena are becoming more and more frequent. Freight forwarders must be prepared for such situations and remain flexible to maintain transportation flow.

New transportation regulations 2024

The European Union is implementing new reporting and transparency requirements on greenhouse gas emissions. Similar regulations may be introduced by the International Maritime Organization. Sustainable development is an important topic among shipping companies. The implementation of solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions on new vessels is already widespread.

Shipping from China in 2024

Currently, there are two trends in shipping from China. 

The demand for Chinese products in North America and Northern Europe has decreased, but the demand for these goods in the Middle East, North America, and the Indian subcontinent has increased. 

The trend of import diversification continues. Importers to the US order more and more goods from Southeast Asia, India and Pakistan, in line with the “China plus one” strategy.

Even though China is an importer’s market and prices are not as high as in 2021-2022, rates will change. Currently, there is an increase in freight by ¼ per week on the China-Europe route.

How long does it take to ship from China in 2024?

Transport time from China has extended. The sea route around the Cape of Good Hope extends transit time by:

  • up to two weeks for the Asia-Europe route
  • 10-14 days for deliveries from Asia to the US East Coast

In the case of land transportation, rail freight is currently around the same as sea transport, but rail transport from China to Europe takes up to 50 days in some cases.

Shipping in 2024 – to sum up

What awaits shippers in 2024? There is container shipping outlook for 2024:

  • political instability in certain regions
  • high economic uncertainty
  • potential natural disasters
  • technological disruption, but also opportunities to increase efficiency thanks to new technologies.

Advice for importers sourcing in 2024

  • Play your supply chain.
  • Conduct quality checks before shipment.
  • Negotiate the best Incoterms for your transport (EXW, FOB, FCA, etc.).
  • Be flexible by changing the ports of origin and destination. Diversify transport solutions, for example, by using multimodal connections.
  • Always be prepared for every situation, such as unfavorable weather conditions, production delays, or random situations, and add about 10 days of potential slippage.
  • Compare shipping rates from trusted forwarders on ShipHub.

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