Transpacific carriers start blanking sailings with tariff-hit US imports TRANSPACIFIC container carriers are beginning to cancel sailings for June as they prepare for decelerated growth of US imports from Asia due to tariffs and after eastbound spot rates to the West Coast fell for the second straight week. The Ocean Alliance will blank a June 2nd sailing from Fuzhou that was set to call Nansha, Hong Kong, Shenzhen-Yantian, Xiamen, Los Angeles, and Oakland, and a June 18 sailing from Qingdao that was set to call Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Colon, Savannah, Charleston, Boston, and New York. The blank sailings will take 23,218 TEU of capacity out of the trade lane.

The Ocean Alliance, a highly integrated vessel-sharing agreement, consists of CMA CGM/APL, Cosco Shipping/OOCL, and Evergreen Line. Eastbound transpacific spot rates to move an FEU from Asia to the US west coast are down 14.6 percent from two weeks ago. Steamship lines have become more agile in matching capacity to demand via blank sailings. 

Partly due to the front-loading of imports to beat higher tariffs last fall, US imports from China have fallen sharply in the early part of the year. Shipments have declined six percent year over year to 3.5 million TEU in the first four months of 2019. Carriers implemented 35 blank sailings through February and into early March, including 22 to the west coast and 13 to the east coast, compared with 11 last year. The Ocean Alliance canceled 10 additional trans-Pacific sailings for March-April. In addition, carriers are advising customers to prepare for the likelihood of missed sailings in the fourth quarter when a number of vessels are taken out of service for a week at a time to prepare the ships for the transition to low-sulfur fuel, as required by the International Maritime Organization’s mandate taking effect January 1.

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