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APAC Volumes Expected to Ease in the Coming Months

The Asia-Pacific region continues to be a region of much opportunity for freight forwarders. As one survey respondent noted in our July survey, “demand for inbound to Asia has improved quite a bit during the last 14 months. The buying habits and power have improved for Asians to accelerate the volume.”



Indeed, APAC airfreight continued to hum right along during July. Month to month, our survey respondents noted little change and in some cases a slight dip in volumes from June to July. Still, both months were strong from a volume-perspective as noted by several airlines, airports and associations. In fact, Hong Kong reported airfreight increased 11% in July. Exports increased 15% while transshipments increased 10%.

The three-month outlook for airfreight, however, is getting a bit cloudy as the majority of respondents expect volumes to remain about the same and in some cases such as the Europe to APAC lane, to decline. This is not a big surprise, November typically experiences a slight dip and then picks-up in December to supply last minute inventory shortages for the final days in the holiday period. With the 2018 Chinese New Year falling in mid-February of next year, airfreight will probably get a big boost later in January to ensure adequate inventory levels during the New Year holiday.


Meanwhile, the majority of survey respondents indicated higher month-to-month ocean volumes from June to July across all trade lanes. Here in the US, ports such as Savannah reported a record July with the growth attributed to trade with APAC. Asian ports noted good July gains including Singapore, up 12.1% year-over-year for the month and a 2.1% increase from June. Shanghai also had a good July with TEUs up 5.2% year-over-year and a 1.2% increase from June.

Little change is expected in the ocean freight three-month outlook for most of the trade lanes. However, the APAC-North America lane will likely remain the most active with further volume growth expected. The Emerging Markets also look to be promising with the majority of respondents indicating growth expectations on these lanes.


Intra-Asia continues to be a promising growth spot for forwarders. Month-to-month volume gains were noted in all modes of transport. The three-month outlook also looks healthy in particular for road and rail. China’s National Development and Reform Commission reported in late July that China’s rail freight volume from January to June increased 15.3% year-over-year. In June, the volume increased 16.3%, an 11th consecutive monthly rise. As noted, buying habits of Asians have not only improved but are increasing thanks to the expanding middle-class. We expect intra-Asia to play a bigger role in Asian supply chains as a result.


For the remainder of the year, expectation of steady freight flows is likely; however, the flows are not expected to be as heavy as previous months.

About the APAC Forwarding Index

Based on a monthly survey, economic and transportation data along with unique forwarding market sizing, the APAC forwarding index measures trade volumes to and from as well as within this geographic region. We’ve received several requests to include rates and our belief is that there are a number of other services that already provide this; however, as part of the monthly commentary, we value your thoughts on rates so please continue to share your insights.

Since March of this year we have been collecting data and will officially launch the index next month. We sincerely thank everyone for participating in the surveys as well as providing thoughts via interviews. The August survey is open and once again, we’d appreciate your input by click here.

P.S. In case you’re wondering where the usual full report is, don’t worry, it will return next month. We’ve spent this month finalizing and testing the Index, hence this condensed version. Thank you again for your support!

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