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Could container shipping rates stay this red-hot until 2022?

Posted - April 19, 2021

Asia-US ocean rates are now at or near all-time highs


Container-shipping spot rates keep bouncing around at stratospheric heights — and show zero signs of sliding back to earth. On some trade lanes, they’re still ascending. Case in point: The formerly sleepy Europe-U.S. trans-Atlantic route just spiked.

With fallout from the Ever Given accident in the Suez Canal expected to cut container and vessel availability, the “when will this end?” chatter is starting to fixate less on the second half of 2021 and more on 2022.

This is the season — in a normal year — when rates moderate. While different freight indices offer different numbers, the trend lines are all the same: either up or steady at the peak. The weekly composite Drewry World Container Index, released Thursday, rose 1% this week, to $4,910 per forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU). It’s now up 221% year-on-year. The weekly Shanghai Containerized Freight Index, released Friday, rose another 2.6% week-on-week.

The Freightos Baltic Daily Index global composite (SONAR: FBXD.GLBL) stood at $4,260 per FEU on Thursday, hovering at or near the all-time high set in February. It is around quadruple normal levels for this time of year.


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