Sea freight costs soar again

Sea freight rates have risen sharply towards similar levels to those at the end of the pandemic, according to industry reports.

The spike has been caused by unexpectedly high demand for services – 9.2 per cent in Quarter 1 2024 compared with the same period the previous year, according to analytics platform Xeneta – coupled with geopolitical disruption, particularly the threat of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, which have caused lengthy vessels diversions around the Cape of Good Hope.

This has caused pressure on availability for shippers and pushed the price of a container to the US$10,000 mark first reached during COVID-19 on an Asia-Europe route. It has also increased the number of empty shipping legs taking place.  

The sea freight sector has experienced significant volatility during the past four years, triggered by lockdowns that were followed by a surge in Western customers buying imported goods.

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