Spot Rates Have Peaked, Some Shipping Lines Say

Spot Rates Have Peaked, Some Shipping Lines Say
The Hapag-Lloyd AG Leverkusen Express sails out of the Yangshan Deepwater Port, operated by Shanghai International Port Group Co. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

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One of the world’s biggest shipping lines has decided to stop increasing spot freight rates on routes out of Asia to Europe and the U.S. as it sees an end to the rally that has put prices at record highs.

Hapag-Lloyd AG thinks spot rates have peaked and further increases are “not necessary,” according to Nils Haupt, the Hamburg Germany-based company’s head of corporate communications. The move comes after French rival CMA CGM SA last week froze rates, saying it was prioritizing long-term relationships after a rally that has seen some spot rates jump more than sixfold in the past year.

The price gains came as the economic recovery coincided with reduced shipping capacity, putting inflationary pressure on manufacturers in Asia already grappling with higher commodity and electricity prices. While the historic rally led maritime regulators in the U.S., China and Europe to meet virtually last week to discuss the impact on snarled global supply chains, Hapag-Lloyd’s decision “was not requested by governments or regulators,” Haupt said.


While many shipping lines have taken advantage of rising spot prices, the rally is expected to end at some point, said Jim Bureau, CEO of logistics digital platform provider Jaggaer.

“The supply chain is extremely fragile right now,” he said. “How much more cost can carriers practically take on without increasing financial risk on both buyer and supplier?”

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