What is happening and what to expect from the Asian import market in 2021?

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As for everyone, 2020 was a different year, full of uncertainty and surprises in terms of logistics, for the Asian import market it was no exception. During the last months of 2020, several situations occurred that were totally atypical to the natural course of the import market and that will continue to occur during the first quarter of 2021.

What is happening and what to expect this year in the Asian import market?

Significant rate increases.

Significant rate increase from August through December 2020. According to Abríl López Regional Branch Manager of Key Logistics Group Mexico, these levels are expected to continue until March 2021, eventually stabilizing, although it is uncertain, however, that levels will decrease to last year’s levels for the remainder of this year.

Shortage of containers and available space.

There has been an unprecedented shortage of containers and space, causing an increasing use of surcharges known as “premium services” where shipping lines release and give preference in bookings and equipment to customers who pay such surcharges. The lines have also implemented “penalties” for those who cancel reservations, which range from USD100 to USD200, depending on the shipping line.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year (February 12 to 18) has also been a factor of concern for this first quarter of the year, the urgency of importers to get their goods out before this holiday has caused more demand and an excessive saturation of spaces. Officially, the holiday lasts for one week, but it is expected that workers in China will travel to their place of origin and upon their return some will need to be quarantined as a Covid-19 prevention measure, which may cause delays in production schedules.

Decrease in days available on different shipping lines for the first quarter of 2021

Due to the shortage of containers, shipping lines have decided to reduce the number of days free of delays, in order to avoid excessive use of equipment and ensure its prompt return.

  • The decrease in days varies according to the shipping line, in some cases they have changed from 21 to 7 days off causing an increase in these surcharges.
  • As a measure to solve this problem, shipping lines have cancelled some export services from the USA and Latin America to China and have allocated only empty equipment spaces in order to satisfy export demand to the rest of the world.

In this scenario full of uncertainty, opportunities also arise, since there has been a considerable increase in e-commerce, which increases the need to make the movement of goods more efficient. There has also been an increase in the number of entrepreneurs seeking other sources of income, which is why specialized advice has become more important. Due to this situation, customers are being asked to reserve their shipments at least 2 weeks in advance and, if possible, to provide a monthly projection of the volumes to be considered.

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