Space and equipment, for ocean freight movements from Asia to the UK, Europe and US, has already reached critically low levels for May.

After a small respite in rate and space levels in March, the Suez Canal blockage has driven the market backwards, with the lack of availability during the next month or two expected to drive global supply chains to a literal halt.

Following the canal incident, blanked sailings, port congestion and a massive imbalance of equipment have led to booking availability being near to zero for the next few weeks.

Chinese ports already have little or no space or equipment available, with Ningbo being by far the worst affected recently, resulting in additional trucking fees needed to get equipment into the area.

Rates have already risen steeply again and are predicted to continue to do so for the very limited booking slots that become available. Unfortunately, we may see them match or exceed the recent record all time high levels.

It is currently near impossible to hold a booking and rate for more than a few minutes. Even when bookings are accepted, forwarders are frequently running into additional equipment issues that require containers to be sourced and trucked from alternative ports at additional cost.

Almost every booking has become a logistical puzzle, where matching up the location of an empty container with the port of exit has become a frequent additional challenge.

This situation looks set to get worse before it gets better for bookings to the UK, Europe and US over the next few weeks, as the impact of incorrectly positioned vessels and equipment, brought about by the Suez issue, starts to impact Asia further.

These are incredibly difficult times for everybody, and we recognise that the supply chain disruption has become critical to businesses. However, Westbound will continue to work night and day to try to secure space, but need to ask for understanding, patience and flexibility on rate acceptances, as we try our best to manage and mitigate these very challenging, and unprecedented, circumstances.

At Westbound Logistics we pride ourselves in offering personalised and tailored logistics solutions. To find out more please call 01375 800800 oemail