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Ocean carriers face a shortage of containers in the coming months as production of boxes lags growing cargo capacity, according to Alphaliner. The box-inventory-to-vessel capacity ratio will drop to 1.99 by the end of the year from 2.03 in 2010, the Paris-based analyst forecasts. This is the lowest ratio on record and compares with the capacity ratio of 2.99 boxes per slot in 2000.
Backhaul shippers from the U.S. and Europe will be hit hardest by the box shortage as carriers will need to quickly return empty containers to high demand locations in Asia, Alphaliner said.
Ocean carriers and freight forwarders are also predicting a shortage of boxes later in the year will drive up freight rates, mirroring the situation last summer when lines responded to a dearth of equipment by imposing peak season surcharges of up to $750 per 20-foot container on the Asia-Europe trade.
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