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Transpacific Volumes to Soften despite China-US Truce

Container cargo surge on the eastbound Transpacific route is set to recede in the coming weeks, despite a recent truce between China and the US, according to Alphaliner.

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, and President Xi Jinping of China on December 1 agreed to postpone the further 25% tariffs on Chinese imports to the US for 90 days to allow a broader trade agreement between the two countries to be forged.

Alphaliner explained that the earlier rush to front-load shipments from China to arrive in the US before January 1, 2018, had resulted in record-high eastbound transpacific container shipments in October, based on the date of arrival in the US.

Volumes grew by 12.2% year-on-year to reach 1.46 million TEU and container cargo arrivals in November and December “are expected to come in even stronger.”

Vessel movement data shows that, since mid-October, shipping lines deployed no fewer than 22 extra-loaders from China on the transpacific route, Alphaliner said. Further to this, three sailings were significantly up-sized to offer extra capacity.

“These moves added some 177,000 TEU of extra capacity to the US trade over the past six weeks, with all of the additional vessels due to arrive before the end of this year. Despite the exceptionally buoyant cargo volumes, signs are already starting to emerge that the resilience will not last,” according to Alphaliner.

Carriers already anticipate a drop in bookings, with at least six sailings to be cancelled in December from week 40 onwards. The OCEAN Alliance has already announced the withdrawal of four transpacific sailings, while THE Alliance is to withdraw two sailings.

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