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Xeneta Shipping Index (XSI®) December 2023: the year comes to an end but the drama continues

Xeneta Shipping Index - XSI®

The Xeneta XSI® resembles a game of snakes and ladders, just when you think rates have climbed to the top of the board they tumble back down again, only to begin another risky ascent.

As we prepare to leave 2023 behind, the Global XSI®, which represents the average of all valid long term contracts, stands at 157.8 points in December, which is 62.4% lower than the start of the year.



However, if we look back a little further in time, the XSI® still ends 2023 38.9% higher than it was at the end of 2020.

The unpredictability of the ocean freight shipping market was there for all to see this week following the missile attacks on ships sailing through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The announcement of many carriers that they will sail around the Cape of Good Hope rather than using the Suez Canal means substantial amounts of extra capacity will be needed to maintain service schedules.


The XSI® for European imports was close to flat in December, falling by less than one index point from November to stand at 176.2. This leaves the index at less than half the level it was in December last year when it stood at 390.7 points.

The European exports’ XSI® was also all but flat in December, up by 0.1% to 160.5, leaving this sub-index 58.1% lower than at the start of the year.

With the curveballs of the crisis in the Red Sea and drought in the Panama Canal, there could be some unexpected uncertainty added to the mix during final stage of negotiations for long term rates starting in January.

Far East

The XSI® for Far East exports fell by 1.7% in December to 146.3 points, down from 558.0 points (-73.8%) from the end of last year.

Despite this, the Far East exports reading for December 2023 remains considerably above the levels recorded between 2017 and 2019.

Far East imports has fallen to 104.3 points in December, down 0.6% from November 2023, and lower than the levels seen at the end of 2017 and 2018.


The only index which posted any kind of meaningful increase in December was US imports, which was up by 2.0% from November to stand at 185.8 points.

While the major trades from the Far East to the US West Coast can avoid the direct disruption in the Panama and Suez canals, those importing through the US East Coast from the Far East are hit twice. First by the restrictions in the Panama Canal due to low water levels which led several services to be rerouted through the Suez Canal.

The XSI for US exports fell by 2.2% in December to 128.1 points. While this is the trade with the biggest month-on-month drop in December, it has the lowest year-on-year drop across all the XSI® indices, down by just 19.5%.

Get the full XSI® report here. 

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Note: Xeneta's XSI® is compiled from the latest crowd-sourced ocean freight rate data aggregated worldwide. Companies participating in the benchmarking and market analytics platform include names such as ABB, Electrolux, Continental, Unilever, Nestle, L'Oréal, Thyssenkrupp, Volvo Group and John Deere, amongst others. 

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