Forwarders see shifting trends driving change in Asian supply chains


Rates on block space agreements out of Asia are expected to fall next year, as capacity continues to come into the market – but at least, demand is rising, said Kathy Liu, senior director, global sales and marketing at Dimerco Express.

Demand for import and export routes in South-east Asian countries had increased, she said.

“Taiwan’s exports to the US have seen a significant increase in trade volume. Also, the proportion of Taiwan’s exports to South-east Asia has risen, while China is moving towards being more Europe-oriented,” she added.

Also, she said, intra-Asia cargo spot rates are stable compared with the pandemic period.

“We see the business growing in this area, capacity has also been added back quickly and we haven’t seen any space issues in 2023. We believe it will remain stable next year, if there are not any irregular events.”

Ms Liu reckons India will be a hotspot for inbound and outbound cargo in the next few years.

Dimerco has noticed a trend for US consumer electronic brands to move product lines out of China, like Dell, Apple and HP which are diversifying their supply chains to destinations including Vietnam, India, Thailand and even Mexico.

Ms Liu expects to see raw materials still produced in China, but then exported to South-east Asia and Mexico for finished goods heading for the US market. According to a report on China’s trade by Hua Chuang Securities, its exports to the US, Europe, and Japan fell 15% in August, to 34.5%.

However, overall exports to South-east Asia increased to 15%, which further supports the trend. The report also found that overall exports of consumer goods fell 14.3%, not meeting the seasonal demand. Only the toy category performed within expectations, increasing 17%.

Dimerco relies on block space agreements (BSAs) with the major Asian carriers to provide capacity for both regular and urgent freight needs. The return of belly capacity brings more supply into the market, but with demand continuously soft, this may lead to a lower rate of BSAs next year, in line with market levels, Ms Liu explained.

She added: “This year, the BSA rate in general has been higher than market expectations. We anticipate more supply in 2024, especially with the increase in flights between China and US, so we expect to see the BSA rate back to the market level, with a more realistic forecast base on the demand.”

Further afield, Dimerco has expanded its US network to Phoenix, with the completion of its investment in BC Logistics, and also extended operations in Savannah, GA for the south-eastern US, catering forthe semiconductor, automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment, energy, healthcare and other industries requiring time-critical, service-sensitive transport.

Ms Liu noted that the US-Mexican border had become more congested, and carriers were deploying more capacity.

“They need to watch out for extreme overcapacity,” she warned, “because this will lead to a crash of freight prices. Carriers have also showed the world how nimble they can be in terms of adjusting capacity and replanning service loops to meet the market.”

Dimerco is also responding to the shift from air to sea freight with multimodal solutions. In line with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it continues to focus on both cross-border train and road freight.

“On average, rail freight is 70% cheaper than air, up to 20 days faster than ocean and can be GPS-tracked more effectively,” said Ms Liu.

Overall, she has observed that rising manufacturing costs in China, high interest rates, war in Ukraine and Israel and trade tensions between the US and China had forced consumers to become more cautious.


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