Additionally, export spot rates to Asia are beginning to increase as space on vessels leaving US ports tightens. The World Container Index Los Angeles to Shanghai rate had climbed to $450 per FEU as of Feb. 13, from $355 on Dec. 12.
“The imminent thing is the escalating number of blank sailings. That is going to have an impact on the influx of equipment to the US,” said Uffe Ostergaard, president of Hapag-Lloyd Americas.
A sudden downturn in imports can result in a shortage of containers that are available to carry US exports. With fewer laden inbound containers unloading in population centers such as Chicago, Minneapolis, or Columbus, Ohio, there will be insufficient empty containers in those regions to meet the demand from exporters for products such as scrap materials or agricultural commodities.