Reasons Behind the Recent Surge in International Shipping Rates

  • The global shipping industry has witnessed an unprecedented surge in international shipping rates recently. This phenomenon, driven by a complex interplay of geopolitical conflicts, economic policies, and market dynamics, has far-reaching implications for businesses worldwide. Understanding the reasons behind these escalating costs is crucial for companies involved in international trade, particularly those relying on imports from key manufacturing hubs like China.


  • An ocean container capacity crunch has hit global trade just as peak shipping season starts, with freight spot rates up some 30% over the past few weeks and heading higher.
  • Bad weather, longer ocean transits, and vessels skipping ports are adding to the supply chain issues.
  • Freight intelligence firm Xeneta is warning that rates could rise through June, and the “dramatic” rise will surpass the Red Sea spike, ultimately hitting consumer prices.

In this blog, we delve into the primary factors contributing to the recent spike in shipping rates. From the impact of the Houthi conflict on critical shipping routes to the competitive pressures exerted by electric vehicle companies, we explore how these elements collectively strain the shipping industry’s capacity and drive up costs. Additionally, we examine the strategic maneuvers by shipping companies to consolidate resources and raise prices, exacerbating the situation further.

1. *Impact of Houthi Conflict on Europe and Africa Routes*
The ongoing Houthi conflict has significantly affected shipping routes to Europe and Africa, which were already limited in capacity. Shipping companies have had to allocate substantial resources, leading to increased operational costs. Long voyages and congestion at transshipment ports have also resulted in many empty containers not returning to China.

2. *Depleted Overseas Inventory Levels*
Overseas inventory levels have plummeted to pre-pandemic levels, with noticeable increases in orders from Southeast Asia. The demand surge has contributed to the spike in shipping rates.

3. *US Presidential Election and Tariff Concerns*
As the US presidential election approaches, there is widespread speculation about potential tariff increases on Chinese goods by 50-60%. Major companies are locking in shipping slots and consolidating shipments in advance, creating a surge in demand for shipping services.

4. *Competition from Electric Vehicle Companies*
Electric vehicle companies have absorbed a significant amount of shipping resources. With Brazil set to impose tariffs on Chinese EV companies starting in July, many companies are booking shipping slots in advance. Shipping companies, prioritizing these large orders, are redirecting resources from West Africa to South America.

5. *Shipping Companies Collaborating to Raise Prices*
The most critical factor is that shipping companies are collectively raising prices by reducing supply. This coordinated effort has driven up shipping rates globally.

If you need to import products from China or have shipping requirements, please contact us at Morefar Global Sourcing. We offer solutions to manage orders, consolidate products, and handle transportation worldwide. We also provide timely advice to help you ship during periods of lower freight rates.