Another business article from the UK offers some insight.
"Zero" freight rates, possibly subsidized by the esporting countries, are another form of 'dumping.'
===========Shipping rates hit zero as trade sinks Freight rates for containers shipped from Asia to Europe have fallen to zero for the first time since records began, underscoring the dramatic collapse in trade since the world economy buckled in October.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor Last Updated: 5:42PM GMT 13 Jan 2009
The cost of shipping goods from Asia to Europe has tumbled
"They have already hit zero," said Charles de Trenck, a broker at Transport Trackers in Hong Kong. "We have seen trade activity fall off a cliff. Asia-Europe is an unmitigated disaster."
Shipping journal Lloyd's List said brokers in Singapore are now waiving fees for containers travelling from South China, charging only for the minimal "bunker" costs. Container fees from North Asia have dropped $200, taking them below operating cost.
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) which measures freight rates for bulk commodities such as iron ore and grains crashed several months ago, falling 96pc. The BDI – though a useful early-warning index – is highly volatile and exaggerates apparent ups and downs in trade. However, the latest phase of the shipping crisis is different. It has spread to core trade of finished industrial goods, the lifeblood of the world economy.
Trade data from Asia's export tigers has been disastrous over recent weeks, reflecting the collapse in US, UK and European markets.
Korea's exports fell 30pc in January compared to a year earlier. Exports have slumped 42pc in Taiwan and 27pc in Japan, according to the most recent monthly data. Even China has now started to see an outright contraction in shipments, led by steel, electronics and textiles.
A report by ING yesterday said shipping activity at US ports has suddenly dived. Outbound traffic from Long Beach and Los Angeles, America's two top ports, has fallen by 18pc year-on-year, a far more serious decline than anything seen in recent recessions.
"This is no regular cycle slowdown, but a complete collapse in foreign demand," said Lindsay Coburn, ING's trade consultant.
He said it was "illogical" for shippers to offer zero rates, but they do whatever they can to survive in a highly cyclical market.
Offering slots for free is akin to an airline giving away spare seats for nothing in the hope of making something from meals and fees. ----------------- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/4229198/Shipping-rates-hit-zero-as-trade-sinks.html
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).