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Shipping lines face Suez Canal price rise and EU ETS surcharge

Container shipping lines (and by extension shippers) are facing another price increase in January, with the Suez Canal announcing a 15% increase in fees on northbound transits.

The Suez Canal increases will not apply to vessels returning to Asia, but container ships moving from Asia to Europe can expect cost increase of between $60,000-$105,000 per voyage.

Carriers operating Asia-North Europe loops may have absorbed the increased costs in the past, but given the current, extremely low freight rate levels, they are much more likely to try and pass them on, possibly via a new surcharge.


And from 1st January 2024 the shipping lines will be required to report their emissions and purchase an equivalent amount of allowances on the EU ETS market, with 40% of reported emissions due to be converted into allowances I 2024.

So far five carriers have announced an indicative surcharge for their Asia to Europe service (EUR/teu) but the amount is subject to change.

Maersk – 35
HPL- 12
CMA – 25
MSC – 22
ONE – 24

Suez – USA

For the Asia-North America trade, however, the increase in Suez Canal Fees could undermine a change in container supply chain dynamics, which had led to an increase in Suez transits to reach the US east coast.

The Panama Canal’s drought-related operational constraints are likely to continue into next summer, with carriers increasingly electing to take the westbound route through the Suez Canal, but the increased fees could see that ratio change.

Since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, US importers had increasingly shown preference for the all-water route to the east coast, rather than using west coast ports and moving cargo across the country by rail, a trend accelerated by pandemic-linked congestions and ILWU negotiations.

However, the recent west coast labour agreement, has seen container volumes returning to west coast gateways, with volumes up 14% and 19% respectively at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, year on year, in September.

The Suez Canal Authority may price themselves out of the equation.

Whatever challenges your supply chain may face, our sea freight team leverage our long-term ocean carrier relationships to deliver cost-effective, resilient and reliable sea freight solutions. 

EMAIL Colin Redman, our managing director, for insights, information and pricing.