Source: Drewry Shipping Consultants. Note: Rates are for full container loads and include the base ocean shipping rate across ship classes, port charges both at origin and at destination, fuel surcharges and all other surcharges.
Maritime Transportation Rates for a 40 Foot Container between Selected Ports, 2010
The rates to ship a 40 foot container (the most common containerized unit) between different maritime facades are a function of several factors:
  • Port charges. Larger and more productive port terminals tend to have lower rates, attracting port calls.
  • Distance. A simple function of the amount of bunker fuel consumed, since fuel accounts for about 50% of a containership operating costs. Longer distances tend to have higher rates.
  • Economies of scale. The larger the volume between port pairs, the larger the ships that can be employed to service them, which reduces operating costs. Larger volumes are also subject to more competition, which holds down rates. The limits to economies of scale are related to the nautical profile of the concerned ports.
  • Imbalances. Trade imbalances tend to increase the rates for inbound flows and depress them for outbound flows, assuming that the inbound flows are related to a country having a negative trade balance. More cargo is competing for the containership cargo slots. The higher inbound rates are subsidizing the repositioning of empty containers. On the above map, the rates between Asia and North America, Europe and North American and Asia and Europe are illustrative of these imbalances.