UK Firms Seeing Import Costs Surge

UK businesses are experiencing up to 700 per cent increases in the costs per shipping container as chaos in shipping continues.

According to This Is Money, the average cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Asia to the UK has increased from $1,752 (£1,250) in February 2020 to $8,000 (£5,700) in the past couple of weeks.

A survey by logistics firm Freightos revealed that almost four out of five small and medium-sized import businesses stated they have experienced difficulties importing containers within the last six months and that 34 per cent of respondents have been forced to pass on price increases to the consumer, or face reduced margins

Shipping lines have been charging logistics operators higher shipping rates and three-figure UK import surcharges over the last year due to a shortage of containers in Asia, where many British businesses import their goods from. 

Talking to BBC News in January, Helen White, founder of, which imports lighting manufactured in China, said the firm was being charged over £10,000 a container, compared to £1,600 in November last year, saying “It's really hard for a small business to absorb those costs. We’ll be making a loss on the goods we're selling.”

There has also been a 40 per cent reduction in the number of containers produced during the first half of 2020, as the pandemic halted operations. This, combined with the fact that fewer containers are being returned from Europe and North America, has caused container availability to fall, and prices to rise.

Many of these containers have instead been causing problems at ports elsewhere where they are piling up on the dockside, including at the Port of Felixstowe, Britain's busiest container port.

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