January 2023 International Market Update


The following information from Sunset’s International team details the current International market conditions. Customer communication is vital with the instability of international trade. 

Sunset is here to help with the most basic or complex shipments.  Email [email protected] to speak further about how to manage any International needs that arise.

Ocean Industry

Current constraints

    • Port operations largely back to normal on both costs.
    • EC ports around 3-5 days delay, almost no vessels waiting outside NYC/CHS/ORF. Still around 9 vessels waiting for berth at Savannah.
    • Gulf Coast is relatively congested, 5-7 day wait with ~15 vessels waiting outside Houston.
    • WC Ports are a 5-7 day wait as well, however, there are effectively no vessels waiting for berth.
    • This year, the pre-Chinese new year period was quiet, with blank sailings planned instead of extra loaders.
    • Many Chinese factories are closing earlier and for longer this year than in past years, and volumes are likely to remain depressed until March.
    • Carriers are experiencing low utilization levels on TPWB, and capacity is readily available on almost all services.
    • Demand reduction has allowed container yards to clear through the backlog and reduce congestion, although pockets remain around the US Gulf and Southeast.
    • Ocean freight rates have seen a stable to the slight downward trend in contrast to the more volatile inbound trades.
    • Lead times for bookings have lessened with the decrease in demand.
    • Most US East Coast services to North Europe and the Mediterranean are experiencing medium to low utilization levels and limited space constraints.
    • By contrast, US Gulf Coast to North Europe and Mediterranean services continue to have very high utilization levels.
    • US West Coast to North Europe options remain limited, with high utilization rates. The situation is expected to continue into Q1 2023 as no additional influx of capacity on this service is planned.
    • Overall, rates remain steady despite high utilization levels ex US Gulf and West Coasts.
    • Reintroducing regular port calls at Savannah and Charleston may impact space and rates.
  • US International Trade in Goods and Services, November 2022
    • November 2022: -$61.5B
    • October 2022: -$77.8B

      The U.S. monthly international trade deficit decreased in November 2022 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit decreased from $77.8B in October (revised) to $61.5B in November, as imports decreased more than exports. The goods deficit increased $15.3B in November to $84.1B. The services surplus increased $1B in November to $22.5B.

Stability: Instability will continue into Q2 2023.

  • December Imports fell another 1.3% from November, and 19.3% YoY.
    • Descartes reported  that 1.9M TEU’s were imported in December.
  • Global Schedule Reliability improved to 56.6%  in November, but still well below the average of 74%.

Future Lookouts:

  • Blank sailings are still rising due to volume drops.
  • VLSFO Prices are still on the decline.

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