March 15 - The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and CLECAT, the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services, have voiced concerns about current capacity levels and service uncertainties

The organisations claim that capacity for maritime shipments to Asia has decreased dramatically with repercussions on rates and service. The trade bodies say that higher demand and the managing of capacity by carriers, means shippers may have to wait for weeks to ship a container. They stress the importance of the availability of sufficient capacity to ensure the facilitation of world trade and insist that carriers respect ongoing agreements and contracts.

CLECAT and FIATA recognise that demand for shipments from Europe to the Far East has increased, but question whether the current situation of insufficient capacity can be explained merely by higher demand.

"We witness an increase of vessels being taken out of circulation, which in our opinion contradicts the current increase in demand. On some routes shipping lines only accept bookings for sailings as far away as in four weeks' time. Furthermore, it has been extremely difficult for the industry to deal with blank sailings," said Jens Roemer, chairman of FIATA's sea working group.

While FIATA and CLECAT emphasise the importance of ocean carriers in the global supply chains and are aware of the difficulties the industry is facing, the organisations claim that in order to prevent long-lasting damage to trade, carriers need to do all that is possible to guarantee sufficient capacity to traders.

According to FIATA and CLECAT, a number of carriers announced a Peak Season Recovery Surcharge (PRS) on cargo moving from Europe to the Far East, and claim that some shipping lines are trying to apply the new PRS for shipments booked subject to tariffs and agreements valid at the time of booking.

In order to keep sustainable relationships in the supply chain, ongoing contracts and fixed agreements should be respected, says FIATA and CLECAT.