General Cargo and the Container Trades

The largest percentage of cargo by sea is general cargo, which amounts to 60 percent of goods shipped by sea. Most of this cargo is transported in containers. One of the most significant achievements of containerization is the efficiency of cargo operations and the achievement of scale economies by drastically reducing the cost of handling and
transportation.

There are two main trades in the container shipping market: EastWest and North-South. China has the biggest volume with some 200 million TEU lifts annually. Main trade routes include Shanghai to West Coast of the United States (Transpacific), Shanghai-Mediterranean and Shanghai-North Europe (Far East-Europe), and north-south trades such as China (Shanghai) to Australia/New Zealand and South Africa. Other Intra-Asian trade routes include Shanghai-Singapore, Shanghai-East Japan and, Shanghai-Hong-Kong.

In general an increasing trend in freight rates can be observed in the container trades compared to the bulk market, where freight rates have been decreasing continuously.