Overcapacity in container shipping and weak European demand may nullify recent rate increases and the sudden rise in the spot market, Drewry has warned in its recent Container Forecaster.
"Five new services are being launched in the transpacific before June and we believe that this will put continued pressure on the spot rates and the ability for carriers to push through increases they are seeking in May contract negotiations. This year will see another 59 ships of at least 10,000 TEUs enter the global fleet," said the London-based maritime research consultancy.
"Given that Asia-US demand is still uncertain, this desire to re-introduce so much new capacity, rather than lay-up tonnage, could be a de-railer if there is a weak peak season. The cascading of larger vessels into the north-south trades is also becoming more noticeable and could also be a threat to their stability," said the report.
"We concur and forecast that east-west freight rates, including fuel, will rise by as much as 13.7 per cent this year, but we should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the considerably higher spot rates in the weekly rate indices and think that all is now fixed," said the report.