What is a General Rate Increase (GRI) in shipping and what is its implications..??

In the world of shipping, there are many many jargons, but there is one term that that revs up exporters and importers alike and that is GRI..

GRI stands for General Rate Increase and has several implications in the trade and can impact quite heavily on business if not handled right..

GRI is basically an adjustment of freight rates across all or specific trade routes during a specific time frame..

What is General Rate IncreaseThis is applied by shipping lines according to their requirement and the quantum of the rate increase is decided by them, generally based on the supply and demand on that route..

Example of a GRI announcement may be as below..

Dear XYZ Line customers

In a continued effort to provide you with best in class service and extensive port coverage in the region, XYZ Line is now announcing a General Rate Increase as follows:

Effective date: 1st September, 2013 Scope : Far East Asia countries to South Africa ( including hinterland countries serviced via South Africa).

General rate increase: USD 300 per 20’ container & USD 600 per 40’ container

Thus all cargo gated in from the 1st of September will have the GRI applicable.

This increase is necessary to continue providing a first class service in this trade, in an environment where the operating costs remain on the rise and current rates are below sustainable levels.

So what does this mean and what is its implication..??

This means that if for example on the Shanghai/Durban route your freight rate was USD.1000/20′ & USD.2000/40′, with effect from 1st of September, the rate will become USD.1300/20′ & USD.2600/40′..

Money in General Rate IncreaseThe implication to the buyer or seller would be that they might need to adjust the pricing of their products to accommodate this increase in freight cost.. Therefore such announcements are vital for sellers and buyers..

Generally GRI will be applicable for all customers except certain contract customers or customers who have negotiated special rates with the shipping line at the discretion of the shipping line..

Certain lines also term it as GRRGeneral Rate Restoration..


Why is GRI applied..??

Well, it is simply a question of supply and demand and also economic viability.. Like any industry and business, shipping lines have to take advantage of the market when there is demand.. In general, the container freight market is quite volatile (some trade lanes more than others) due to competition, leading to over tonnage and capacity and a general drop in rates..

So when there is are certain seasons in which the carriers can manage to secure a higher rate, they will try it.. Because this rate cannot be sustaniable across the year, they apply these increases as GRI for a certain period..

In certain countries like the USA however, GRI is regulated much like the freight rates and any GRI must be must be reported to the Federal Maritime Commission 30 days before they go into effect..

During this period, the carriers can adjust the GRI (downwards) from the announced figure or do away with it based on supply/demand..

Lines can leave the GRI as reported or reduce it, but they cannot increase prices over the initially-reported GRI quantum..

As the figures are notified in the market, there is usually a lot of negotiations and haggling between the lines and freight forwarders..

When it comes to global freight forwarders the negotiations may be quite serious and there is always a contest of who will blink first between the freight forwarder and shipping line..

For a BCO, GRIs can be tricky because it can affect cargo already booked but yet to be loaded which means they have already costed the goods, but will end up paying more as their negotiations with their buyer is completed and fixed..

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6 thoughts on “What is a General Rate Increase (GRI) in shipping and what is its implications..??”

  1. Who and How decide GRI ? Shipping line ? Is it possible that some lines are come up with GRI but others are not imposing GRI ? Please advise.

  2. hi, hariesh . I know there is HBL (house bill of lading ) under L/C (Letter of Credit) but recently I came across an MBL issued by UASC where the cnee is a bank and notify is the importer. Is this MBL under L/c ?
    can you tell in detail ,please ?

    • YES, MBLs may also be consigned to the bank and submitted for negotiation under LC.

      Many a time, the LCs have a clause stating that Forwarder BLs are not acceptable. Whenever we came across this, we get it amended to acceptable because it is most likely that an HBL is involved.

  3. Are GRI rates permanent or for a short term ? For eg. Due to excessive movement of cargo during Christmas season, the SLs may increase their rates.
    Are they normally practiced, as an when the increase is required by the Shipping lines or are they in force for short period of time?
    If on a short term basis, are these rates withdrawn, subsequently ?


    Prashant Roy


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