The extent and momentum of the rise in international container transport market rates and the scope of their impact have been unprecedented. The international container shipping market has never experienced a similar extent and momentum of rate increases and scale of impact. International container transport is highly correlated with the world trade situation. Since the 1960s, the international 40rf container transport market has undergone multiple cycles of rise and fall with strong periodicity. However, compared to the past, the extent and momentum of the current rate increase and scope of impact are unprecedented.
The international container transport market is highly market-oriented, and rates depend on supply and demand. On the demand side, China's share of the global export market has increased from around 13% before the COVID-19 pandemic to around 15% currently. On the supply side, there were bottlenecks in "ships, containers, personnel, and services." The international container shipping market is highly market-oriented, and rates primarily depend on the state of supply and demand. From the demand side, the global economy is steadily recovering, and international trade is rapidly recovering and growing.
Secondly, the imbalance between the import and export of export shipping containers has intensified the tension in the supply chain. Port international sea shipping container throughput data shows that before the epidemic, about 37 million TEU box turnovers of empty containers were imported every year. However, due to the impact of the lack of overseas circulation of containers, and the diversion of 150 thousand TEU box turnover in the form of land-based China-Europe trains, the shortage of imported empty containers via shipping reached 2 million TEU box turnovers at the height of the epidemic. With the acceleration of container production and adjustment of shipment schedule, the situation of "difficult to find a container" has been significantly improved. Thirdly, the supply of crew members remained tight. The Philippine and Indian crew member countries have complicated epidemic situations, and coupled with crew change and quarantine issues, the global shortage of crew members has become more prominent, leading to a continuous increase in container shipping market crew cost.
In summary, since the outbreak of the epidemic, the international sea shipping container transportation market demand has declined. With the global trade recovery in the second half of 2020 and 2021, shipping demand has gradually recovered. However, the increased imbalance in freight demand caused by the epidemic, the lack of smoothness in container handling, and port congestion have caused a decline in vessel operating efficiency. As a result, the market supply-demand relationship has rapidly reversed, and the shortage of ship capacity has caused a continuous and substantial increase in container liner shipping rates.
The problem of port congestion has resulted in a clear decline in the level of container liner services. At the beginning of the outbreak, the on-time departure rate of global backbone routes (Asia-Europe and Asia-West America routes) was above 60%. However, due to the capacity control of major liner companies in response to the epidemic, as well as problems such as port congestion, typhoon disasters, and canal channel blockages, the original schedules have been disrupted. The imbalances in the peak and valley of the export shipping containers supply chain have become more serious, and the chain reaction caused by a delay in one link has magnified the supply and demand tension in the shipping market.