COVID-19 Did Not Cause These High Freight Rates

COVID-19 Did Not Trigger These Excessive Freight Charges

Over the past 12 months, Common Cargo has posted so many blogs in regards to the astronomical freight charges the worldwide delivery business has been seeing, shippers are most likely bored with studying about it. In fact, shippers are much more bored with paying these charges which have set report after report over the past 12 months, slicing deep into companies’ earnings. In earlier years, we have been capable of publish far more thrilling weblog posts with headlines about report low freight charges. What occurred? How did freight charges get to this place?

Many will say it’s the pandemic. Nevertheless, COVID-19 will not be answerable for the excessive freight charges we’ve seen. Some may object and level to how freight charges have soared over the course of the pandemic. For these making that remark, it’s necessary to recollect correlation doesn’t imply causation.

COVID-19 has definitely performed a job within the excessive freight charges shippers have been pressured to take care of over the past 12 months, however because the pandemic wanes, excessive freight charges are usually not more likely to do the identical. That’s as a result of the foundation trigger of those excessive freight charges will not be the pandemic. The pandemic was merely a “tipping level” for the various elements that induced freight charges to get to the place they’re now.

Devin’s Seven Causes for Spiked Freight Charges

The one individual I do know who’s most likely as aggravated as me by the oversimplification of blaming the rise of freight charges we’ve seen over the past 12 months on the pandemic is Devin Burke, Common Cargo’s CEO.

“I simply don’t need to put it on the market that the Pandemic is the rationale,” he instructed me. “It’s like possibly 20% of the rationale, for my part.”

Years in the past, Common Cargo did a sequence of movies known as Devin’s Sevens. Maybe he can’t assist himself from pondering in sevens as a result of when Mr. Burke spoke in regards to the causes for these extremely excessive freight charges, he gave seven elements:

  1. Discount in vessel manufacturing because of the overcapacity glut between round ‘14-‘19
  2. Clean sailings
  3. Discount in manufacturing of apparatus
  4. Decommissioned vessels
  5. Very gradual adaptation and progress of automation in US ports (in comparison with China and Asia) coupled with cussed longshoreman unions preserving ports (particularly LA) very gradual, cumbersome, and congested
  6. China/US commerce conflict ‘18-‘20  inflicting excessive tariffs
  7. Merging of carriers (giving them extra unity and management of the market)

All of those elements are issues I’ve written about in Common Cargo’s weblog, so common readers aren’t more likely to discover these causes for prime freight charges shocking. The dearth of the pandemic exhibiting up on Mr. Burke’s record, nevertheless, is perhaps shocking. It’s necessary to know Mr. Burke will not be dismissing the function the pandemic performed in these excessive freight charges we’re seeing. As a substitute, he’s placing the pandemic’s function with freight charges within the correct context. These excessive freight charges are usually not taking place in some pandemic bubble. They’re a part of a continuum of what’s been taking place within the worldwide delivery business.

“One of many key causes the freight charges have spiked is due to what occurred main as much as the pandemic,” Mr. Burke mentioned. “I consider the pandemic was the lighting of the fuse (or the tipping level).”

This new Devin’s seven of things listed above, he described as important occasions within the worldwide delivery business that led as much as March 2020.

What’s Actually Taking place

Some folks offers you a easy narrative that the coronavirus pandemic got here alongside and induced freight charges to spike like we’ve seen. Whereas the pandemic performed its function, that easy narrative is deceptive and might distract from the issues actually taking place within the worldwide delivery business. Many issues have been taking place for a very long time that ought to have had shippers involved earlier than the pandemic ever struck.

All of the elements Mr. Burke introduced up are necessary. We’ve talked about them earlier than on this weblog and can go into extra element on them sooner or later. Common readers of this weblog know I’ve been warning about shrinking competitors amongst carriers, with a mix of mergers, buyouts, chapter, and particularly consolidating into alliances for years.

Within the 12 months or two earlier than the pandemic hit, we noticed carriers tightening up on capability, controlling how a lot area there was for shippers’ cargo on worldwide waters. This was already permitting carriers to carry greater freight charges to the business whereas limiting the volatility of falling then rising then falling once more charges. Even with out a pandemic, carriers have been able to push charges excessive. The pandemic, nevertheless, offered the right circumstances for carriers to flex their muscle. On the identical time, the remainder of the business struggled beneath tight regulation and restrictions whereas being unprepared for the rise of demand that was about to hit, exacerbating the scenario.

“So mainly when the Pandemic hit and stopped every thing for 3-4 months, then abruptly boomed due to pent up demand and the nation opening up,” mentioned Mr. Burke, “this gave carriers whole management of market to make up for the billions they’d misplaced within the earlier 8-10 years. So going ahead, we’ll nonetheless see this pattern, no matter Covid, as a result of there stays a scarcity of vessel area, a rise in demand, scarcity of apparatus, gradual ports, and carriers will benefit from this to earn excessive revenues.”

All of this, we’ll get into extra in future blogs. You can too search our weblog for these key phrases to see previous posts pertaining to those points.

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