Acurrent spot rates. Changes in transport at the beginning of the new year. Holidays in China result in delays in the delivery of goods. Railway as the most efficient means of transport. Poland remains the most important transit country for rail transport between China and Europe. China has lifted COVID restrictions, resulting in a significant improvement in logistics efficiency.
- Sea freight
After a slight increase in early January this year, container freight rates on trade routes between Asia and Europe remain stable. They have stopped their sharp decline, but there is a lot of uncertainty about how the markets will develop after Chinese New Year. Rates are expected to remain low after the holidays as they depend on international trade, which will not recover immediately.
Long-term rates are constantly falling and their current levels are too unfavorable for shippers and carriers to make a deal. Many long-term contracts that were due to be finalized were postponed due to market uncertainty.
*Drewry's WCI (as of Jan 19) is down 3% to $2.078,90 per 40ft container.
*Shanghai-Rotterdam：$1808/FEU (-$80 or -4% weekly)
*Shanghai-Genoa: $2780/FEU (-$41 or -1% weekly)
* Freight forwarders offered rates in the range of 1400-$1700/ FEU from China to base ports in Europe.
*The price war continues and shippers' rates may change several times a day. In addition, rents for container rentals are falling.
- Railway transport
Rail transport from China to Europe runs smoothly as China gives priority to trains to Europe. On average, it takes about 15 days to travel from the main Chinese stations to Małaszewicze in Poland. However, this does not mean that all trains run smoothly. The snowy and cold weather in Northwest China severely affects the delivery time. Trains at Dostyk station (on the border between China and Kazakhstan) were delayed last week due to low temperatures, strong winds and heavy fog, causing many trains to stop and wait halfway. Trains to Europe and Russia are expected to be delayed by about 5-7 days.
Slots (free cargo space) for February are almost sold out. There is a shortage of trailers in eastern and southern China, although prices have increased by 50-80% as drivers have gone home for Chinese New Year.
China promotes rail transport. In 2022, a 19,4% annual growth in trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is projected. In addition to railways to Central Asia, Russia and Europe, China has also developed railways to Southeast Asian countries. South Korea and Japan also started shipping their goods to China first and then importing them to Europe on China-Europe trains.
According to logistics experts, Poland remains the most important transit country for rail transport between China and Europe. Investments in infrastructure in Małaszewicze will open up new opportunities despite the current war between Ukraine and Russia.
The railway terminals on the border between China and Kazakhstan are open during Chinese New Year, so trains run normally.
- Road transport
Road transport between China and Europe is mainly carried out over the border between China and Russia or between Kazakhstan and China. The cost of crossing the border between China and Russia remains high as road terminals are heavily congested due to the surge in trade between China and Russia. China has lifted COVID restrictions at the border since January 9, 2023, allowing Kazakh trucks to enter Chinese warehouses to pick up goods from then on. However, some Kazakh carriers are not willing to cooperate because they have modified their semi-trailers to adapt them to the requirements of Covid prevention, which is currently useless and resulted in losses. But both Customs and the government say they are working on a new regulation. The industry expects that by the end of February this year. border terminals will return to pre-epidemic conditions.
Currently, few shipments are transported overland because Chinese drivers are on vacation. Many warehouses and factories in China are currently closed and operations are expected to resume after January 28. All road terminals on the border of Kazakhstan and China are closed on January 21-23, 2023.
In 2022, 40338 vehicles were exported through the Khorgos road port, 96,44% more than in 2022. Vehicles are mainly shipped to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and other countries along the BRI.
The industry has seen that Russian imports of complete vehicles, which fell sharply after EU sanctions, are now gaining momentum. European suppliers export cars to Russia via Iran, Romania and other Central Asian countries, but the processes and procedures are very complicated. Russia has also started importing European cars from China, which are first transported by trains or trucks to the China-Kazakh border and then picked up by Russian carriers.
As China lifted COVID restrictions, logistics efficiency in China has improved significantly, operation costs have been reduced. Warehouses no longer close unexpectedly, drivers don't have to wait hours for COVID tests. For example, loads from Shenzhen to Hong Kong were usually shipped by sea, due to the limited truck traffic during the epidemic, which usually took 2-3 days. Currently, it only takes 2-3 hours by land. The industry sees 2023 as a turning point, with cargo volumes expected to increase from the second half of 2023.
- Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves are at an eight-year low and the country is unable to pay for imports due to debt. As a result, thousands of containers have become stuck in the port of Karachi.
- In 2022, China's cross-border e-commerce reached RMB 2,11 trillion, up 9,8% yoy. Of this, exports reached RMB 1,55 trillion, an increase of 11,7%, and imports reached RMB 0,56 trillion, an increase of 4,9%. China has introduced measures to support the development of cross-border e-commerce.
- China's car exports have skyrocketed, especially new energy vehicles (or so-called alternative fuel cars). The cost of shipping a car by sea to Europe used to be around USD 800, and now it is over USD 2. USD. Due to the inability to transport ships y/y, some carriers began to load cars into containers and transport them to Europe by rail or container ships. The requirements for loading, rigging and unloading are high.