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CN analysis:

Container freight rate slide on larger Indian trades slows amid contract negotiations

The slide in container freight rates on some of the trade routes out of India seems to have slowed, according to the latest market analysis by Container News.

On the westbound India-Europe trade, average contract rates from West India (Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT)/Nhava Sheva or Mundra Port] to Felixstowe/London Gateway (UK) or Rotterdam (the Netherlands) have dropped to US$850 per 20-foot container and US$950 per 40-foot container, from US$950 and U$1,050, respectively, at the end of March.

For West India-Genoa (the West Mediterranean) shipments, contract rates have held steady month-on-month, at US$850/20-foot box and US$950/40-foot box.

However, eastbound cargo (imports into India) rates for these port pairings have seen further declines, month-on-month, with the exception of the Mediterranean trade.  According to the analysis, average rates now stand at US$1,050/20-foot container and US$1,150/40-foot container for bookings from Felixstowe/Rotterdam to West India, versus US$1,250 and US$1,350, respectively, last month. However, rates for shipments from the West Mediterranean (Genoa) to West India have remained unchanged at US$900/20-foot box and US$1,006/40-foot box.

Average short-term contract rates for the India-US trades have shown some early signs of an uptrend, after major carriers began seeking general rate increases (GRI) – in the range of US$500 per container, from 29 March  According to the analysis, rates for shipments from West India (Nhava Sheva/Mundra) to the US East Coast (New York) are hovering at US$1,550 per 20-foot box, up from US$1,502, and US$1,700 per 40-foot box, versus US$1,970, and at US$1,500/20-foot container, versus US$1,373, and US$1,741/40-foot box, steady with the March level, for container loads moving to the US West Coast (Los Angeles).

For the West India-US Gulf Coast (Houston) trades, average rates have also held firm month on month -- at US$1,735 per 20-foot and US$2,735 per 40-foot container.

Major carriers, such as MSC, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd, have announced a second of GRIs from 1 May – at a higher scale -- and according to industry sources, the success of recovery will hinge on this attempt as contract negotiations pace up.

However, on the US-India trades (return leg), short-term contract rates have continued to drop measurably, by between a 10 to 20% increase, on average, from the levels maintained by major operators last month.

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