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Xeneta’s container rates alert says steady month, but future is uncertain 

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Xeneta’s container rates alert says steady month, but future is uncertain. Image: Pexels
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With the collapse in demand and glut of supply in the container vessel segment, analysts may have been fearing the worst for developments in long-term contracted ocean freight rates. However, despite the widespread ramifications of Coronavirus, rates held comparatively steady for the month of May, with the latest XSI® Public Indices report from Xeneta registering a 1.2% decline. This follows a 0.7% increase in April, leaving the index up 1.7% for 2020 so far. That said, the future, Xeneta cautions, remains defined by uncertainty.

Proactive approach 

Oslo-based Xeneta’s XSI® provides unique intelligence on the very latest ocean freight market moves. Based on crowd-sourced data from leading shippers, the report utilizes over 200 million data points, covering more than 160,000 port-to-port pairings, to provide a real-time picture of industry developments.

The unexpected rise in April, after a 0.5% fall in March, was attributed to the proactive strategies of container ship operators, who were withdrawing market capacity and adjusting sailings in an attempt to balance supply and demand. That approach continues to mitigate damage, while the gradual opening of national economies is, Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund explains, giving some room for optimism.

Early days

“Given the debilitating effects of the pandemic on global economic activity, there may have been a belief that rates would freefall, but not so,” he comments. “Owners have been quick to remove surplus capacity and as some, particularly European, countries cautiously reopen we’re seeing carriers, such as those in THE Alliance, announce plans to reinstate sailings.

“Contracted rates have held up well, some would say surprisingly so, while spot rates on key routes have also stood strong. With some national governments stepping in to support the industry – such as those in South Korea and Taiwan, who have both announced emergency funding of USD 1billion for shipping – a ‘blood bath’ has largely been avoided. Nevertheless, it’s early days and many owners have posted worse than expected Q1 results and, it has to be said, will be dreading going public with Q2 figures.”

Fluctuating fortunes

He continues: “The future, unfortunately, remains uncertain. That makes it absolutely essential for all stakeholders in the shipping value chain to access the latest intelligence to ensure they stay up to speed and get optimal value when negotiating rates.”

That sense of unpredictability has been evident in the regional developments revealed by Xeneta’s XSI®, which is based on a unique collection of crowd-sourced rates data pooled from leading global shippers.

In Europe the import benchmark continued its decline, falling (for the third consecutive month) by 2%, down 2.2% since the start of the year. Exports however continued to perform robustly, with rates increasing by 0.8% and now 6.1% up for the year (5.7% year-on-year). Far East imports, meanwhile, surged by 3.9%, with the figure up 6% in 2020 to date. A performance that couldn’t be matched by the export index, which fell 1.4% in May, but remains up 1.7% for the year, but down 6.1% year-on-year.

Both the import and export benchmarks fell in the US, with the former declining by 1.5% (up 1.8% since the start of 2020) while the latter slid by 3.4%. It is now just 0.2% up for the year, but 1.6% up year-on-year.

Positioning for success

“It’s obviously not all doom and gloom for contracted rates, even though the challenges the industry (and indeed the world) face should not be underestimated,” Berglund concludes. “Owners and operators are clearly up for the fight and moving decisively when and wherever that’s possible. We can see clear evidence of that in the work of the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), made up of the largest carriers, which is looking to introduce a paperless bill of lading and potentially save billions of dollars in costs. A much-needed efficiency.

“Shippers have to stay equally as limber in this environment, keeping up to speed with real-time market developments. Nobody knows what will happen next, but with the insights enabled thr

Container Shipping Lines

MSC introduces instant quote function for online cargo bookings

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MSC introduces instant quote function for online cargo bookings. Image: Pixabay
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MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has upgraded its e-business platform myMSC with the addition of a new online Instant Quote function. Customers wishing to use this tool will be able to quickly and easily get shipping rates for container bookings.

Currently, the majority of MSC’s bookings are carried out offline, and it can take some time to complete a booking. Using Instant Quote, customers can generate an online quote in seconds, with just a few simple clicks, 24/7 online.

They then have the option to instantly complete the booking with the generated quote on myMSC. Alternatively, they can save the quote or forward it to multiple contacts for booking at a later stage. The automated quote generation also reduces room for human error, further improving the efficiency of the process.

The Instant Quote function is currently only available for shipping trade routes from North America to Europe and from Asia to Europe, with plans for the addition of more trades over the course of 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend towards digitalisation within the industry and the importance of engaging customers through multiple platforms, including through e-business. As such, this upgrade of myMSC is a clear illustration of our continuing efforts to invest in digital business transformation with the aim to improve efficiency and transparency, and to give our customers more options,” said Andre Simha, Chief Digital & Information Officer at MSC.

The launch of Instant Quote is expected to significantly boost the number of MSC’s online bookings, and further unlock the value of myMSC as an e-business platform for customers.

Using Instant Quote

Customers will first need to login to myMSC at myMSC.com, or to sign up for an account if they do not have one yet. Upon login either through the desktop version or the myMSC iOS/Android app, customers can access the Instant Quote function.

By selecting the starting and ending points of the shipment and the equipment size, customers can see the options for shipping rates. Details such as the shipping window, estimated transit time, routing and the charges included in the quotation will be clearly displayed.

The tool can be used for bookings of standard-sized (20 and 40 feet) and High Cube (40 and 45 feet) dry containers. For locations where intermodal services are available, customers can opt for end-to-end rates from the origin to destination.

MSC has ensured a seamless integration of the Instant Quote function into myMSC, and a smooth overall user experience for customers. This new function adds on to the list of e-business tools available in myMSC, such as ability to do e-bookings, retrieval of documents such as booking confirmations and arrival notices, oversight of bookings via a dashboard, creation and submission of Shipping Instructions, submission of Verified Gross Mass (VGM), tracking of shipments and receiving of notifications.

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DP World and Saudi Ports Authority has launched a new shipping line

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DP World and Saudi Ports Authority has launched a new shipping line. Image: DP World
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In partnership with DP World, the Dubai-based provider of worldwide smart end-to-end supply chain logistics, the Saudi Ports Authority (MAWANI) has launched the first direct shipping line connecting UAE’s Jebel Ali Port in Dubai with Egypt’s Sokhna Port through Jeddah Islamic Port.

The announcement today ushers in a new era in the region’s shipping industry, as the new shipping line, the fourth to be launched by Mawani in 2020, aims to provide shipping services on the Red Sea coast.

The move has been taken under the supervision and follow-up of the Saudi Minister of Transport, HE Eng. Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser. The Ministry of Transport’s vision has been focused on linking the Kingdom to the surrounding countries by sea, land and air in a strategy aimed to unlock numerous opportunities utilising the unique location of Saudi Arabia and connecting it intermodally with Europe and Africa using Saudi as an important land bridge.

DP World in December last year was awarded a 30-year Build-Operate-Transfer concession by MAWANI, for the management and development of the Jeddah South Container Terminal at the multi-purpose Jeddah Islamic Port. Under the agreement, DP World will invest up to $500 million to improve and modernise the Jeddah Islamic Port, including major infrastructure development to enable the Port to serve the ultra-large container carriers, considered the world’s largest mega containerships.

HE Eng. Saad Alkhalb, President of Saudi Ports Authority “MAWANI”, said: “The launch of the new shipping line is part of Mawani’s ambitious initiatives to achieve its strategic goals set by the National Industrial Development and Logistics Programme to support economic growth, foster investments and contribute to achieving Saudi Vision 2030 positioning Saudi Arabia as a global centre for logistics”.

Alkhalb added: “The direct shipping line will connect Jeddah Islamic Port with more ports in the East and the West, making it a central regional and global gateway, and establishing the Kingdom as a leading logistics centre. The line will also help facilitate trade across all the global supply chains, increase transhipment volumes and gain an upgraded share of the ships on the Red Sea Coast. All these benefits are expected to boost the overall competitiveness and efficiency of the operations and services provided by Saudi ports while increasing investment opportunities in this vital sector”.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman and CEO, said: “DP World is pleased that our strategic partnership with the Saudi Ports Authority (MAWANI) is moving from strength to strength, thanks to the continued support of His Excellency Eng. Saleh Bin Nasser Al-Jasser, the Right Honorable Minister of Transport. The launch of the first dedicated shipping service connecting Jebel Ali, Jeddah and Sokhna will be a game changer in promoting the much-needed intra-regional trade.”

Bin Sulayem added: “This development is also the result of the encouragement and drive by His Excellency Eng. Saad Alkhalb, President of the Saudi Ports Authority. The shipping line will directly benefit the Arab world’s three largest markets. We’re committed to delivering best-in-class efficiency and productivity using smart technology-led logistics. The strategic positioning of our ports also enhances the flow of global trade along the arterial – Europe/Asia – sea route. DP World in Jeddah is integral to the Saudi ports ecosystem and raises the Kingdom’s competitiveness in line with its 2030 growth vision.”

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MSC collaborates with South Pole to expand its Carbon Neutral Programme

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MSC collaborates with South Pole to expand its Carbon Neutral Programme. Image: Pixabay
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MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has partnered with leading global climate solutions provider South Pole, to develop the MSC Carbon Neutral Programme. After successful implementation in selected countries, MSC is now extending the programme to clients worldwide throughout 2020.

The programme complements MSC’s strategic approach to sustainability and massive investment in reducing emissions across its fleet. MSC recently completed the launch of the largest class of container ships which produce the lowest CO2 emissions per container carried by design – MSC’s Gülsün Class. Furthermore, MSC is actively exploring and trialling a range of alternative fuel and propulsion technologies to support the container shipping industry’s long-term goals to decarbonise.

On top of this, MSC was the first major shipping line in 2019 to offer an option to fully compensate the unavoidable carbon emissions caused by the transport of their cargo through supporting climate protection projects managed by South Pole.

The climate action projects developed by South Pole deliver measurable benefits aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They improve lives, provide jobs, and preserve landscapes for communities around the world. As part of the Carbon Neutral Programme, MSC customers can compensate the emissions from the transportation of their cargo by financially contributing to two selected projects that reduce emissions. South Pole cancels the same amount of carbon credits generated by these projects, which are audited and third-party certified according to the most stringent international standards, the Verified Carbon Standard (Verra), the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards and the Social Carbon*.

“In addition to running the biggest fleet investment programme in the industry, MSC has ensured that customers have an option to compensate CO2 emissions through the global MSC Carbon Neutral Programme. We have partnered with South Pole, a leading, certified third party to extend the MSC Carbon Neutral Programme and help bridge the gap between shipping today and the zero-carbon future we all aspire to,” says Claudio Bozzo, Chief Operating Officer, MSC.

“We congratulate MSC on this important effort to further green their fleet and for facilitating their customers to be more climate-friendly. Transformational change won’t happen overnight, but each step we take along a shared, ambitious climate journey is bringing us closer to where we need to be,” said Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole.

“MSC clients are given the opportunity to  contribute to projects that not only mitigate  global CO2 emissions, but also improve lives on the ground in communities in China and Zimbabwe – from the development of cleaner energy and to combating poverty, improving skills and ensuring food security,” said Natalia Gorina, Commercial Director at South Pole.

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