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Box carriers are adding new transpacific services to the west coast of Mexico, but rising capacity on the tradelane has not halted the surge in pricing.

MSC, CMA CGM and Cosco have all introduced more transpacific services, but so far, increasing capacity has failed to make a dent in the upward momentum of Asia to Mexico rates.

According to Eternity Group Mexico’s EAX index, rates for 40ft containers surged 55.5% in May over April, which itself seen a 56.9% increase over March.

This was the third month-on-month price rise in excess of 50% this year. Rates climbed 50.2% in January, followed by declines of 6.8% and 8.1% in February and March.

Shipping lines have blamed container shortages – especially of 40ft units – at Asian ports, but rampant growth in traffic has been another major driver.

Manzanillo, Mexico’s largest Pacific gateway, reported a record 340,409 teu count for April, while its May throughput was slightly lower, at 333,737 teu. Over the first four months of the year, Manzanillo clocked up a 12.9% YoY increase in traffic, to 1,606,682 teu.

Importers have struggled to get confirmed space on vessels out of Asia (despite paying market rates) and costs have been pushed up further by volatile exchange rates, Eternity reported, adding that congestion at Asian ports had stretched transit times.

The pain is likely to get worse: the EAX index show rates for 40ft containers from China to Mexico hitting $5,140 in May (up from $3,304 in April and $2,106 in March), and Eternity does not anticipate the momentum slowing, despite a capacity influx of about 50,000 teu, but predicts rates to climb above $7,500 this month.

The latest carrier to boost its presence in the tradelane is MSC, which last week announced a new operation from China, the Dahlia service, for 3 August, from Shekou via Xiamen, Shanghai and Busan, to Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico’s top Pacific gateways.

MSC is the third international container line that has recently introduced new strings connecting China with Mexico. CMA CGM announced in early May a weekly transpacific container service with eight dedicated ships, followed by Cosco, which is fielding another eight vessels.

Check out this clip of Visy Global Logistics’ Peter Sundara Swamickannu on whether this is the peak – or if Q3 will go higher

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