Three major container carriers have announced significant rate hikes on their Asia westbound routes ahead of the third quarter peak season.

Maersk, CMA CGM and OOCL have all published the increases to be levied from 01 July 2016.

Maersk is to raise rates by US$1450 per TEU on its Asia, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Black Sea and North Africa routes; while Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has announced it will increase Asia-Europe westbound freight rate to US$1100 per TEU, affecting westbound traffic from Far East (excluding Japan) to North Europe, the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

CMA CGM is raising rates by US$750, with a GRI introduced from 15 July 2016, according to JOC.com.

Meanwhile a survey of 51 shippers has revealed that nearly half of the respondents expect this year’s third quarter peak season volumes to be the same as last year’s, according to Drewry Research.

Another 35% of those surveyed anticipated lower volumes this year, while only 18% predicted higher volumes.

Drewry said that the results of the survey confirm that international trade remains sluggish.

Carriers have taken the unprecedented step of removing capacity in key trades ahead of the peak season in a bid to support freight rates.

The third quarter has generally been the busiest period for the industry as retailers in the major consumer centres of the US and Europe stock up on goods ahead of the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas periods. It has also been the time of the year when carriers have traditionally been able to boost revenues through peak season, congestion, and equipment repositioning surcharges.

Between 2008 and 2015, the average proportion of annual world container volumes moved in the third quarter was 26.3%, ahead of 25.4% in the fourth quarter.