TSA sets US$300/FEU rate hike on April 15, not May 1 as first billed

MEMBER lines in the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) have agreed to increase freight rates US$300 per FEU on April 15 instead of May 1 as previously announced.

TSA executive administrator Brian Conrad said the increase represents an attempt to correct a slide in rates that misrepresents actual conditions in the Asia-US freight market.

"The downward rate pressures we are seeing do not reflect the steadily improving cargo picture eastbound from Asia," Mr Conrad said.

"The Lunar New Year period was strong, with average vessel utilisation numbers in the 95 per cent range; while most people tend to focus only on the supply and demand imbalance, what is getting lost in the pricing discussion is service value," he said.

Mr Conrad saw the rate situation as akin to repeated deferral of infrastructure investment.

"We are in effect negotiating an annual budget for a major piece of infrastructure. Eventually we will have to pay more attention to long-term service reliability - hopefully before a crisis makes the problems more acute and the solutions more costly," said Mr Conrad.

TSA members are APL, "K" Line, CSCL, Maersk, CMA-CGM, MSC, Cosco, NYK, Evergreen, OOCL, Hanjin, Yang Ming, Hapag-Lloyd, Zim and Hyundai.