The Kiel Canal is closed / Striking truck drivers in South Korea threatened with fines / Container prices continue to fall
The German inland shipping industry has not had much luck in the past two years. After a Finnish crane ship crashed into the two high bridges in Holtenau, Kiel, on the morning of 30 November – causing massive damage to the structure – the transverse axis of the Kiel Canal, which is important for the entire European logistics chain as it directly connects the Baltic and North Sea, has been closed.

It is not yet clear how long the waterway will remain shut. The German authorities have appointed an expert to take a close look at the mishap; whether and when they will give the green light remains unclear. The barges, with their goods, are already jammed, and goods are now being transferred to rail and road.

The situation is not better in Austria, where railway workers went on a 24-hour strike on 28 November – 8,000 connections were affected, and one million passengers were stranded. The stoppage of the entire rail traffic was also felt in neighbouring countries. The reason for the strike was the deadlock in collective bargaining – railway workers are complaining about new employees on the night train being paid a net monthly wage of EUR 1,356 for 40 hours of work. The rail workers’ union is demanding a pay raise of EUR 400 per month for the sector’s 50,000 employees. The current offer on their table is of EUR 208/month more, and a one-off payment of EUR 1,000.

A mini van does not solve a truck drivers' strike: street scene in South Korea (Photo: Pexels, Markus Winkler)
Truckers in South Korea are even more tenacious. They have been on strike for more than a week to get their system of minimum wage, Safe Freight Rate, extended. The strike, the second one is less than six months (see Plasteurope.com of 16.06.2022), has serious consequences: experts estimate that Asia’s fourth-largest economy is suffering a loss of more than USD 220 mn (EUR 210 mn) every day.

The construction industry in particular is suffering from a lack of materials. Half of all construction projects in South Korea are at a standstill or have already had to be halted. Therefore, the government wants to force truck drivers to get back behind the wheel under the threat of heavy fines – those who refuse work are to lose their driving licence or even go to jail.

The peak season (Christmas presents!) for the airline industry is also slow this year. According to Dutch analysis company, ACD World, the amount of cargo flown around the world is stagnating. Compared to the previous year, the volume, measured in terms of tonnage transported, has decreased by 17%. But there is no lack of capacity – their availability has increased by 3%.
Freight rates plummet
But it is not only air freight that is deficient; there is also a shortage of goods for shipping. This is directly being reflected in freight rates for 40-foot containers (FEU). In the week from 28 November to 4 December, transporting a steel box from China to the US West Coast cost a whopping 16% less than the previous week, at USD 2,100 (EUR 2,039). The same picture emerged for the route to the East Coast, where the price fell by 14% to USD 4,900. Rates also plummeted for the routes to and from Europe: from China to Northern Europe the price fell by almost 9% to USD 4,100. For the return leg, the freight rate fell by 6.25% to USD 750.

The rate for transport from China to Southern Europe fell somewhat less sharply: USD 4,400, a drop of 2.2% on the previous week. From Southern Europe to China the rate remained at USD 1,000, as did the route from the US East Coast to Northern Europe, also at USD 1,000. In contrast, the price for Northern Europe to the US East Coast fell slightly – a decrease of 2.7% means USD 7,200.
01.12.2022 Plasteurope.com [251659-0]
Published on 01.12.2022
Logistik: Containerfrachtraten befinden sich weiter im SinkflugGerman version of this article...

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