Sep 16, 2020 08:10 PM

Exclusive: China Tightens Rules on Shipping Routes With U.S. to Get Runaway Costs Under Control

What’s new: China’s Ministry of Transport will tighten its regulatory control of shipments between China and the U.S. to bring down shipping costs, a person familiar with the matter told Caixin.

In the future, the ministry will require all container shipping companies on the Sino-U.S. route to submit their schedules and freight capacity ahead of time, and provide financial records.

“They want to curb high volatility in shipping fees by tightening regulatory requirements,” said the person. “The ministry will step in if prices jump sharply.”

What’s the context: The announcement comes as shipping fees spiral ever higher.

Lower shipping fees could make Chinese products more competitive and improve the nation’s export performance.

Data from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange showed that shipping fees to send a 40-foot container from China to the U.S. west coast have more than doubled since last September to some $3,900. Sending a container to the U.S. east coast cost as much as $4,700.

This figure greatly exceeds the operational cost of $1,800 per container, said a researcher at the exchange.

A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the length of the container that serves as a benchmark for shipping fees on the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. It is a 40-foot container.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full Caixin article in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Lu Yutong ( and editor Heather Mowbray (

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