Export trade experienced a series of fluctuations in the first half of 2020. The sudden outbreak of Covid-19 complicated distribution and reduced transport, which intensified competition between distributors for the limited number of available ships and planes.
Prices significantly increased in July and August, and there was a shortage of shipping containers around National Day [October 1, 2020]. Transport costs and trade volumes on the American trade route suddenly went up in June and this trend still continues. Transport costs in other routes followed suit. This includes the shipping routes to Africa, the Mediterranean, South America, the Indian Ocean, and Northern Europe. In some areas the shipping cost increased by almost 1,000 USD.
Many importers are speeding up purchases to stock up for the upcoming Christmas season. Prices are rising visibly. Shipping company Wanhai announced that the transport cost of export from Shenzhen in China to Southeast Asia increased by 500-1000 USD per shipping container since June. The transport cost of a standard shipping container is already at 2,000 USD, and seems to go up every single day.
The transport cost of long-distance transport between China and the USA has been high for months. The transport volume between China and Europe declined by more than 10% in the first 8 months of 2020, and the transport cost is slowly rising. The transport cost in October increased by 12% in comparison with September. Demand for transport between China and South America is growing fast, and there is already a shortage of standard shipping containers. There is more demand than shipping companies can deliver, and so the price is going up.
The transport cost remains high and a number of shipping companies have announced higher prices at the beginning of the month.