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PUBLISHER: The Load Star (

Maersk said this week it anticipated container spot rates would fall back in the second half of the year, justifying its strategy to secure 70% of its volume under long-term contracts.

Spot rates are already showing signs of softening, post Chinese New Year, on the Asia-North Europe tradelane, and the return to some form of normalisation in H2 would threaten the sustainability of the new challenger carriers on the route.

The ever-growing number of disrupter carriers offering several sailings a week from China to North Europe have secured a foothold in the market with their space guarantees, faster transits, avoidance of congested hub ports, status monitoring and, not least, good communication.

According to The Loadstar’s enquiries, rates being touted by a challenger carrier on weekly sailings from Shenzhen and Ningbo to Liverpool are $13,500 per 40ft with a transit time of approximately 32 days, which compares favourably with Xeneta’s XSI short-term index Asia-North Europe component, which declined by 4% this week, to $14,258 per 40ft, and is down 6% for the month.

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