Ocean carriers have themselves to blame for today’s rock-bottom container freight rates, according to a pair of steamship line executives.
Allen Clifford, executive vice president of Mediterranean Shipping Co. (USA) Inc., and George Goldman, president of ZIM USA, made the candid comments Feb. 2 in a discussion at the Planning for Shifting Trade Conference in Tampa, Florida, that featured equally forthright views from major marine terminal operators.
“It’s our fault,” Clifford said, noting his comments to be his own and not the views of global container shipping leader MSC. “For some reason, we don’t know our costs.
“We’re in a position today that we made ourselves,” Clifford continued. “The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can be healthy.”
Clifford said he recently spent more on a New York business group dinner than the current $600 to $700 freight rate for a 40-foot container going from Asia to New York.
“Everybody tries to beat each other over the head for another 25 dollars,” he said, adding that carriers, third-party logistics firms, forwarders and other industry entities must return to following a simple axiom: “There has to be a proper remuneration for services provided… The fact of the matter is, we don’t know how to say ‘no.’”
Clifford said it is imperative that ocean carriers cover such costs as those associated with ports, chassis and container leasing, and ever-fluctuating bunker fuel prices…
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