Price increases, rentals and standoffs: what is happening to the port world

It is a phenomenon in recent months that has seen the multiplication of shippers and forwarders who choose to charter ships for the transport of goods. A singular phenomenon which, however, finds various explanations: first of all the increase in freight rates, followed by the small hold capacity present on the logistics market. These factors, accompanied by a series of directly resulting inefficiencies, led several supermarket chains in America to prefer ship rental to deliver goods to shops and companies.


At this time, the costs of transporting a forty-foot container, for example, can even exceed $ 20.000 on the transpacific route. Renting a ship directly becomes - as pointed out by Lloyds List, the authoritative newspaper of US port logistics - a profitable business. Basically, going out to sea with your own 2.500 TEU ship for a 45-day Shanghai-USA round trip would cost about $ 100.000 a day, meaning 4,5 million euros. The cost of the liners to transport 2500 TEUs at a price of $ 10.000 each would amount to about $ 25 million, a huge gap.

Why does only a small part proceed this way?

The reasons are manifold. Let's see them together:

  • a surge in ship charters to contain costs would in fact have the opposite effect, with a dramatic increase in spending due to the scarce availability of ships to charter;
  • operators, especially smaller ones, do not have sufficient preparation to go out to sea to carry out a maritime transport operation so complex that it would be substantially prohibitive in terms of know-how, workforce and management;
  • the third reason is linked to balance, because waging war on large shipowners is not a wise choice. The reactions of the liners to actions of this type have not been positive at all, and have risked leaving even important aftermaths.

However, the situation is different when it comes to large multinationals with billions in turnover. In these cases, as happened in the USA, the tug-of-war with liners under these conditions is destined to continue, not even excluding a direct entry into the maritime market of the current Amazon, one of the many giants that pays for this situation and that is at the same time ready to invest in business opportunities.