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Skyrocketing Shipping Costs Explained

18 Aug 2021

What’s going on with the cost of shipping recently?

The cost of shipping has been skyrocketing recently and is showing no signs of slowing, it is particularly notable in shipping between Asia – America, and Asia – Europe.

There is a range of factors that affect the cost of shipping goods:

  • Mode of transportation (e.g. air or sea)
  • Shipment volume (dimensions) and weight
  • Origin and destination  
  • Seasonality
  • Fixed costs such as oil and labour

The effects of the ongoing global pandemic are adding to an already complex matrix of factors that influence shipping costs. Going from Hong Kong to the UK, a shipment that was US$2,100 in August 2019 (before the pandemic hit) would now be at least US$20,000. In June 2020 (once the pandemic had already started affecting shipping prices), a shipment from Hong Kong to New York was around US$4,000 but is now around US$22,000.

One major factor behind the cost increase relates to the lockdowns throughout the world and the increase in demand for consumer goods, particularly those manufactured in China. Items are shipped from China to meet consumer demand abroad, but lockdowns and other economic effects of the pandemic have made it hard to refill the containers to have them returned to China to allow the cycle to continue.

In addition, major port congestion and bottlenecks are being observed in many parts of the world, contributing to the cost increase. Again, this is mostly a result of the imbalance between imports and exports and the resulting demand for containers as well as labour disruptions, all linked closely to the global pandemic.

If I use an international moving company like Asian Tigers, can I reduce costs by packing myself?

Shipping insurance explicitly excludes items packed by owners. If you want to pack some items yourself, we can deliver packing materials to you, but don’t seal the boxes so our packers can finalize the packing of those boxes to avoid any insurance issues. 

What can I do if I won’t be ready to have my shipment delivered straight away?

You can still have your shipment packed at the most convenient timing for you, and you could have your shipment stored in a warehouse at the point of origin, or stored at your destination until you are ready for it to be delivered.

If you have any questions or want to arrange a quote, contact your local Asian Tigers office or reach out to us via our online contact form.

You might also be interested in taking a look at our Timing Your Move, and Learn From My Shipping Mistakes.

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