Jan 17, 2009 (LBO) – A sharp fall in freight rates owing to the global recession and oversupply of tonnage is helping Sri Lankan exporters cope with slowing demand in overseas markets and high domestic costs, trade officials said. Randolph Perera, chairman of the Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council representing exporters and importers, said the drop in freight rates has been considerable and comes at a time exporters have been hit by a downturn in their markets.
“Shippers are benefiting from the fall in freight rates,” Perera said.
“Freight rates to Europe have dropped by about 500 dollars. Today you can get a twenty-foot container for about 5-600 dollars and a forty-footer for 1,100-1,200.”
He said there is still pressure on shipping lines to further reduce freight rates but warned this could also prove to be counter-productive is carriers reduce calls at Colombo port if they are no longer remunerative.
“We feel rates might drop further. The only danger is if ships try not calling at Colombo (because of low rates). Then we might be in for a tough time.”
There was no immediate indication lines would drop Colombo altogether although there has been a slight reduction in calls.
Some lines have reduced the numb