NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Murat Bakal MBA(Business of Administration) Rana Shipping Technical Manager, Marmara University Mechanical Engineering Dept. Lecturer, Writer, Oceangoing Chief Eng.
By Sea and Coast | 04/05/2021


The “new normal” has alsoimpactedtransportation. At theend of 2020, freightratesskyrocketed, which has neverhappenedbeforetosuch an extent. Whatcausedtheunprecedentedincrease in freightrates?

Previously, thecost of shipping a 40-foot-long containerbyrailfromChinato Europe wasbetween USD 3,800 and 6,000, andtheestimated time of transit was 12 to 18 days. Thetransportation of thesametype of containerbyseausedtocost USD 800-2,500, andthecargoreached Europe within 32-40 days.

Theratesareexorbitant, sometimesmorethan 200% higherthanusual.

Thereasonsfortheincrease in freightrates;

Weshowed how freightpriceshaveskyrocketed at theend of 2020. Belowaresome of thefactorsthatcausedthechanges.

Theoutbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic

Since thespring of 2020, thecases of coronavirushaverisenrapidly. Duetothepandemic, manyimporterswithheldtheirplans, whichcaused a decline in ordersfromsuppliers in Chinaduringthesummer. Itfurtherresulted in a 5-15% decrease in transshipments in Europeanports in thesecondandthirdquarter of 2020.

Importersstartedcatchingup, soordervolumesandtransshipmentsshootup in thefourthquarter of 2020. Theconsequencesaredeliverydelaysandcongestions, especially in theChina-Europe supplychain.


Duetothedecreasedinterest in transportationservices, thesupply of maritimeowners has alsodecreased. Theshipsweredockedforthe time being.

There is alsoanotheraspecttothesituation. Reduceddemandforimportedgoods in China has resulted in a shortage of emptycontainersbetweenChinaand Europe, andthe United States.


Thefourthquarter of 2020 andthefirstquarter of 2021 are a period of revivingeconomiesandincreasedinternationaltradevolumes. Greaterdemandfortransportationservicesledtotheincrease in freightrates.

Christmasholidays ,TheperiodaroundChristmas is invariablythepeakseason in thetransportation of goodseveryyear. Consumerswanttogivegiftstotheirlovedones, sothedemand is increasing, especiallyjustbeforeChristmas. Thissituationalwaysresults in congestionsandincreases in freightrates, but nevertothesameextent as in 2020.

Chinese New Year , Chinese New Year is a specialholidayseason in SoutheastAsia. Thisperiod is usuallydifficultforentrepreneursworkingwithChinesepartners. Theproduction in China is halted; therefore, therearenonewproductsshipped. ImportersaccumulategoodsaheadbeforetheChinese New Year.

In 2021, theChinese New Yearfalls on February 12 andwillbegintheYear of theOx. Since Lantern Festival is celebratedclosetoChinese New Year, forthatreason, thedowntimecouldlastuptothreeweeks.

Read aboutthe impact of Chineseholidays on transport fromChina.


It is a raceagainsttheclocktomake it beforetheunfavorablelegislationthatcomesintoforceregardingthewithdrawal of Great Britain fromtheEuropeanUnion. Ifnoconclusion is reached, theexchange of goodsfromthe EU to Great Britain will be classified as import/export, whichmeansimplementingcustomsprocedures.

in 2021 Therewillstill be a problem of lack of spaceforcontainersonboardshipsandothermeans of transportation, as well as theshortage of emptyboxes.

Therateswillriseuntilthefirstweeks of February, afterwhichrateswilldecrease, but theywillstill be higherthanusual.Therewill be a pile-up of cargoto be shippedbeforetheChinese New Year.Someimporterswilldecidetosuspendordelayimportoperationsuntiltheratesstabilize.Therewill be a change in transportationpreferences; roadfreightfromChinato Europe willgainpopularity.Thedemurragefeewill be increased.An increase in airfreightrateswill be observed, whereasseaandrailfreightrateswill be almostthesame.

Thegradualintroduction of vaccinesgiveshopeforthereturntothe “oldnormality” in 2021. Itwouldmeaneconomies’ recovery, an increase in bothdemandandsupply, associatedwith an increase in imports.

#Sea and coast