The Business Times

Shipping giant CMA CGM sees softening of global freight rates

Published Sun, Aug 28, 2022 · 04:59 PM

French container line giant CMA CGM is seeing an across-the-board drop in shipping rates and a loosening of logistics bottlenecks in some regions as demand softens.

“What we’ve been seeing now for many weeks is a decrease of freight rates in almost all sectors,” chief executive officer Rodolphe Saade said on Friday (Aug 26) in Algiers. “We expect that decrease to continue. I don’t think we’ll see a strong drop but rather a soft landing.”

The observations are in line with those of the World Trade Organization, which said last week that merchandise trade flows slowed last quarter and will likely stay weak in the second half. This could see the winding down of a frothy period for container carriers after 2 years of high rates and capacity shortages stemming from pent-up demand from consumers during the pandemic.

“At the peak of the Covid crisis, we had freight rates between China and Northern Europe of US$14,000” per 40-foot container, Saade said in an interview. “Nowadays it’s around US$9,000 and it is going down.”

Saade said some glitches remain in global supply chain networks, citing lingering strong congestion in places like the US and Europe.

“We are seeing a decrease of the demand so this has an impact on a little less congestion, even though some places remain difficult to manage,” he said.

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The CEO of the closely held Marseille-based transporter is accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron on an official 3-day visit to Algeria.

CMA CGM has operated in the country for 2 decades and is exploring further opportunities in ports and logistics, Saade said. 

The company came under pressure in recent months from some French lawmakers calling for windfall tax on record profits. The shipper and oil producer TotalEnergies responded by granting fuel and freight-rate rebates in France. BLOOMBERG

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