Free Shipping Containers!

What a difference a year makes!

Here’s a screenshot from today’s (January 14, 2009) Telegraph.

Shipping rates hit zero as trade sinks - Telegraph_1231948209885

Here’s a screenshot from the Telegraph from a little over a year ago (November 3, 2007)

Container rates soar as China booms - Telegraph_1231948159272

Those were the #1 and #2 results for a Google search I did on shipping rates after reading Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s sobering article in on the Telegraph website: Shipping rates hit zero as trade sinks.

Hard to believe how fast and hard the global economy has fallen. Here’s a few sobering quotes

Shipping journal Lloyd’s List said brokers in Singapore are now waiving fees for containers travelling from South China, charging only for the minimal “bunker” costs. Container fees from North Asia have dropped $200, taking them below operating cost.

Idle ships are now stretched in rows outside Singapore’s harbour, creating an eerie silhouette like a vast naval fleet at anchor. Shipping experts note the number of vessels moving around seem unusually high in the water, indicating low cargoes.

It became difficult for the shippers to obtain routine letters of credit at the height of financial crisis over the autumn, causing goods to pile up at ports even though there was a willing buyer at the other end. Analysts say this problem has been resolved, but the shipping industry has since been swamped by the global trade contraction.

The World Bank caused shockwaves with a warning last month that global trade may decline this year for the first time since the Second World War.

Offering slots for free is akin to an airline giving away spare seats for nothing in the hope of making something from meals and fees.

File this in the not good news category.

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