Sea freight market update | December 2021

The development of the global ocean freight market showed a further deterioration at the end of 2021. Continuing unreliable schedules, COVID 19-related restrictions and overstretched port staff, do not lead to any relief at congested major ports worldwide. This situation will continue to challenge us for an extended period of time.
To counter this, DACHSER's sea freight teams around the world are working with great flexibility and commitment on finding new alternatives and solutions in close coordination with our customers and shipping partners.

  • Review 2021

In March 2021, the global shipping misery worsened with the Suez Canal incident of vessel ‘Ever Given’, that has caused hundreds of vessels being stuck for six days at the Suez Canal.
In the further course, pandemic-related disruptions in the global ocean freight market continued to dominate. COVID-19 outbreaks and terminal shut downs of several weeks at the port terminal of Ningbo in August, followed by lockdown situations at port Xiamen and Dalian led to delays of vessel schedules. Resulting in an increasing schedule instability and congested ports on important trade lanes to North Europe and the Transpacific.
The congestion situation at the US-westcoast ports Los Angeles and Long Beach had worsened during the year with tremendous berthing delays due to the transpacific imbalance as well as COVID-19-related staff shortages at the terminals.
The consumer demand grows due to economic recovery and funding programs which lead to an ongoing shortage of capacity and equipment. Huge backlog volumes are stressing supply chains even if consumer demand would get periodically softer.

  • Trade Lane Update


Europe - Far East
The space availability is improving while the equipment situation is still tense, especially in the inland depots. Carriers Equipment Imbalance Surcharges are still in place.

Europe - South America East & West Coast
Depending on the carrier, space is available, but subject to equipment. Yet it is still recommended, to place the bookings 6 weeks in advance. Peak Season Surcharge and Equipment Imbalance Surcharge are still in place.

Europe – Mexico
Services into Mexico are being impacted by port omissions on the US East Coast and Gulf. Capacity is tight and with no new or additional services, being added in the near future it is expected to remain.

Europe – Indian Subcontinent
Empty equipment situation in North Europe is further stabilizing in the ports; still high demand in the hinterland areas. Space remains available; carriers are trying to counterbalance the equipment stocks in India.


Port Congestion ASIA
·         Mainland China       Ningbo / Shanghai / Dalian / Qingdao / Xingang / 
                                           Yantian / Shekou / Nansha, Hong Kong: 7-10 days.
                                           Xiamen / Nanjing and PRW: no congestion.
·         Korea                       Busan / Incheon: 7-14 days
·         Indonesia                 Jakarta / Surabaya / Semarang: 2-3 days
·         Indian Subcontinent Chittagong: 1-2 days. All other ports: no congestion
·         Malaysia                  2-3 days       
·         Singapore                2-3 days due port congestion.
                                          Transshipment cargoes rolling 7-14 days in Singapore, depending on carrier.
·         Taiwan                     Keelung / Kaohsiung / Taichung: 2-3 days
·         Thailand                  Bangkok: 5-7 days. Leam Chabang: no congestion
·         Vietnam                   Hiphong Export/Import: 4-5 days. Saigon Export: 7-10 days

Far East - Europe
The space remains tight and especially the empty equipment shortage remains unchanged very limited for all carriers and all types of container and there is no forthcoming improvement. Schedule recoveries and port omissions in Asia will further decrease space and allocation.

Far East - South America East Coast
Constraints in load capacity and equipment are still in place, especially for 40’ Container DRY and 40’ Container HC. Some carriers are willing to accept bookings only for light cargos with 8 tons per TEU. A reduction of cargo backlog is expected during December. There is already some space available on short term, but limited due to previous backlog. Pre-bookings of 4-5 weeks ahead are still necessary.

Indian Subcontinent – Europe
Empty equipment situation has not improved further. Space situation is still very tight, therefore it is recommended to place bookings 3-4 weeks in advance. Especially in South East India East equipment and capacity remains tight and the situation is not improving.

Transpacific Eastbound
Port congestion in US is main cause of ship turnaround time and impact schedule integrity. Space remain tight but also not getting worse until the end of 2021. Port Authority of Los Angeles / Long Beach introduced Emergency Fee for long standings which will be passed on to cargo owners, but it already has been postponed until December 13, 2021 effective. As an alternative to the equipment shortage for full container shipments, DACHSER is offering its expedited LCL service on the transpacific route.
 The weekly scheduled direct expedited LCL service brings average dwell time down from 14-25 days to 3-7 days. Please do not hesitate to contact your local DACHSER sales team to get further information about the LCL service.


Multiple port omissions and congestions in the US continue to impact schedule integrity. Peak Season Surcharges increases are being announced. Vessel space situation improved slightly. However, early bookings are required and additional space outside allocations are not being granted.

  • Outlook 2022

Due to the global sulfur regulation, by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which already came into force last year in January, most container ships will have to go into dry dock in 2022 to make technical adjustments that will reduce CO2 emissions. This leads to further limitation in the sea freight market.
However, by the end of 2022, six new MGX vessels are expected to be launched, with a capacity of 21,000 TEU, which will relieve the ocean freight market.
Rates on the main trades are reaching its peak now because of year end and Chinese New Year in February 2022. It is likely that in March rates will decrease a bit but will still remain high.
The carriers are announcing that “their books are full” and due to the fact that only at the end of 2022 new ships will come into service it can be expected that throughout the entire next year rates will stay at a high level and clearly above “before Covid” times. 

  • Container Indexes

Click the button below to read the current development on World Container Index and Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. 

If you would like to discuss your transport needs, please feel free to get in touch with your local DACHSER representative to work out the best logistics solution.

Container indexes PDF (0,12 MB)
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