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With slack season approaching, carriers in the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trade lanes are forced back into market chasing mode. This could put an end to the pricing discipline and drive profitability back down. Thousands of factories in China have been forced to close down due to pollution concerns. This comes as a continuing effort by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to battle the poor air quality in Beijing. This seems to be curbing container exports during pre-Golden Week and is causing rates to fall rapidly on these two trade lanes. The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index has seen rate decreases for six consecutive weeks. Carriers preached that there would be rate increases during peak season, but they failed to push through. One analyst said “this is a clear sign that rate cutting is starting to take hold once again.”

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