- Ocean freight rates between China and ports on both U.S. coasts rebounded in May, increasing 28.04% from April on West Coast routes and 15.45% on East Coast routes, according to data from Freightos.
- While rates are up compared to the previous month, they are still lower than ocean freight rates in May 2017.
- Imports on West Coast ports also picked up after a slump in March, rising nearly 21% but still coming in lower than the beginning of 2018.
The year 2018 has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for ocean freight between China and the U.S. Rates initially spiked, largely attributed to the Chinese New Year, then fell sharply following the holiday and now are gaining steam once again.
The upward trend in ocean shipping rates is continuing into June, with rates rising steadily on West Coast and East Coast routes.
So far, political tensions between the U.S. and China haven't appeared to hamper trade growth. Most West Coast ports are seeing growth, with the Port of Oakland having "the best April ever for imports in its 91-year history."
In addition, the Port of Long Beach saw 16% growth in import volumes between April and May and "had the busiest May in its 107-year history," according to a press release. The port attributed the volume growth to a strong U.S. economy and e-commerce. Long Beach expects volumes to continue rising into the peak summer months, which are typically busy "as retailers stock up for the holidays."
The ports don't seem to be adjusting their forecasts to account for tariffs between the U.S. and China. Tariffs on more than 1,000 Chinese goods imported to the U.S. will go into effect July 6, with China promising tariffs of the same value on U.S. imports.