Container freight rates skyrocket in Feb. on cargo recovery

SEJONG-- Outbound container shipping costs shot up in February from a year earlier on a recovery in global sea cargo, government data showed Tuesday, in a big burden to South Korean exporters.

The average rate for a 40-foot container from Asia's fourth-largest economy to the European Union came to 14.02 million won (US$11,300) last month, up a whopping 261.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service (KCS).

Compared with the previous month, the cost was up 9.5 percent. The data is based on freight rates reported by local exporting companies.

The average freight rate for a 40-foot container from South Korea to the west coast of the U.S. also surged 188 percent on-year to 15.57 million won in February.

The shipping cost for a 40-foot container from South Korea to the east coast of America skyrocketed 239 percent on-year to 14.54 million won, with the rate to China and Japan swelling 97.7 percent and 23.9 percent each.

Industry watchers said February's surge in container shipping costs came as global sea cargo bounced back from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

They voiced concern that container shipping rates could rise further in March in light of increased volatility stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine that started in late February.

The data also showed South Korean importers' cost for shipping a 40-foot container from the west coast of America jumping 27.5 percent on-year to 2.61 million won last month.

Comparable on-year growth rates were 70.7 percent from the U.S. east coast, 34 percent from the European Union, 42.3 percent from China, 102.6 percent from Japan and 116.3 percent from Vietnam.

It is the first time that the KCS has unveiled shipping rates for inbound containers. The service started announcing outbound container shipping costs in November last year.\

Source: Yonhap News Agency