Encouraging signs for international removals – as container shipping costs dip

Worldwide issues with shipping, which have had a devastating effect on companies and businesses importing and exporting goods abroad, are expected to ease – according to leading international removals specialist, John Mason International.

The company has been helping people move their lives to far flung corners of the world for many decades. Along the way, director Simon Hood and his team have experienced huge changes in the way the industry works. Transporting individuals and families from the UK to countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand poses a number of challenges – and the last two to three years have been fraught with concerns. But all that is expected to change.

“Since 2020, a series of issues has presented a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges – not least the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit, and the Suez Canal incident driving up shipping costs and causing significant delays,” said Simon Hood.

“Our industry relies upon the availability of shipping containers, in order to transport our customers’ belongings to their destination countries, and the scarcity of shipping space – together with soaring costs – has given us many headaches.

“At one point the cost of sending a 40 foot container from China – which had previously cost $2,500 – was being priced in excess of $16,000. And we were seeing similar increases on our routes across the Atlantic and Pacific.

“I’m very pleased to report that the situation has improved considerably – with shipping costs expected to be back to pre-Covid levels in the short to medium-term. This change has been driven by the cost-of-living crisis, and the recovery from the pandemic. People are tending to spend more on services, and less on goods – and that means fewer imports and exports.

“This is great news for our customers because it is freeing up more space for us to use when transporting their possessions overseas. As one of the UK’s leading international removals specialists, we have been fortunate to have a team with the expertise to navigate the issues facing us over recent years, but now we are looking towards a more positive future. We rely on the availability of shipping containers at realistic costs for our customers, and we are looking forward to improvements over the coming year.

“We shouldn’t count our chickens just yet, though. Shipping lines are doing their best to counter this significant drop in what they can charge – by taking some of their fleet out-of-action and therefore reducing the number of vessels available.

“In the longer term, we need to be mindful that this may drive costs back up – as businesses compete, once again, for a more limited amount of container space.

“John Mason International is in an excellent position – not only because our team has many years’ experience in what we do – but also because we are members of the Movers Trader Club (MTC). This means we are allocated a limited number of slots on each vessel – giving us stability in freight rates. So if things do take a turn for the worse in the future we will be able to weather the storm, as we have done in recent years.

The MTC has published its rate expectations for the coming year – and they show that costs for destination countries served by John Mason International are gradually improving:

Westbound – the USA, Canada, Latin America and Caribbean – are relatively stable but minor reductions are expected, as well as greater on-board allocations.

Eastbound – Asia and Oceana – rates here are falling and are expected to be substantially less in 2023/24.

Eastbound – Middle East and Indian subcontinent – rates are falling but there are still some operational issues at some ports.

Southbound – South Africa – there are marginal reductions but still some issues with inland locations.

Southbound – East Africa – marginal reductions.

Southbound – West Africa – marginal reductions, with greater port coverage expected.

“Ultimately, the role of my team at John Mason International is to ensure our customers have the very best possible experience before, during and after their life-changing move abroad,” added Simon Hood. “And we will continue to do that, regardless of what is happening to shipping costs and logistics – or any other aspect of our ever-changing industry.

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