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Hanjin: good news for carriers, bad for shippers?

Hanjin container 1OSLO: September 20, 2016. Pricing platform Xeneta says following the Hanjin crisis many of its shipping community members have been experienced stranded inventory, rising prices and claims of under-capacity from other box carriers.

Xeneta CEO Patrik Berglund says that for many of the firm's customers stranded inventory is their top priority, with an estimated US$14.5 billion of goods belonging to some 8,300 companies marooned on Hanjin vessels.

"The Hanjin saga has the potential to redefine the container shipping landscape," said Berglund. "For an industry that has struggled with collapsing rates, severe overcapacity this marks an opportunity to finally regain the upper hand at the negotiating table."

Xeneta says spot rates pre-Hanjin had already begun to rise between Asia and Europe since hitting a low of US$552 in March for a 40ft container. By August they had climbed to US$1,172 and are now US$1,834. Meanwhile rates across the Pacific have climbed from US$839 in March to US$1,887 this month.

With the departure of Hanjin and a sudden 8.0 percent capacity reduction prior to the Holiday Season rush, Berglund said shippers have told him of rising rates, stretched capacity and broken contracts.

"In many ways the market has been turned on its head. Now it's the liners flexing their muscles again. The question is, how long will this last?"

Berglund thinks the upcoming tendering/bidding season will be a wake up call for many large-volume shippers who have become accustomed to low-priced, long-term contracts: "In a changed market the carriers won't be as accommodating. Last term's prices will suddenly be a distant memory."

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