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Global Shippers Forum welcomes ‘DIY’ container shipping efforts

[ February 12, 2021   //   ]

Secretary general of the Global Shippers Forum, James Hookham, has described moves by leading forwarder Geodis and German purchasing group Xstaff to charter their own container ships from the Far East to Europe to beat soring liner rates and space shortages as “a really good innovation that should be welcomed”.

However, he believes that such such initiatives only be a short-lived phenomenon while liner rates remained at unprecedentedly high levels. The high fixed costs involved in running container shipping operations meant that ‘do it yourself’ efforts might not be sustainable in the longer term.

The forwarders had “done the right thing by their customers”, he believed. “There’s a lot of frustration and anger about rates at the moment. It’s not necessarily due to collusion, but we will be keeping a very close eye on matters.”

Hookham added that the Federal Maritime Commission in the US was also carrying out research into shipper grievances and had promised to act if it found evidence of malpractice.

DIY container shipping had also given the liner industry “a taste of its own medicine”, he added. Many liner shipping operators such as Maersk and CMA CGM with its takeover of Ceva Logistics have designs of the forwarders’ space he believes.

Liner operators developing their own forwarding and logistics arms might not necessarily be a bad thing for shippers, though, said Hookham, if it improved service quality. However, it might mean that customers were locked into a line’s logistics platform.

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