Northern European coaster business—and indeed freight rates—have fallen to such lows that any minor positive change in demand can be welcomed as a recovery. This seems to be the case, ironically during a historically lull period, for Baltic and North Sea-based short sea vessels. Charterers have been seeking more vessels out for July dates as lockdown conditions continue to ease around the Continent. There has certainly been nothing dramatic to point at, but the fact that any growth in inquiry is happening makes for big news in this long slumbering sector. As such, owners are seeking premiums over last-done rates, and there are signs that next week could well see further gains as well. Trans-Baltic freights from the Baltic States to ARAG are seen fetching high teens again instead of the EUR 15/mt range general cargo freight of mid-June. Short trips between WCUK and ARAG are rumoured to have fixed EUR 10/mt on cargoes of 3,000mt compared to EUR 9/mt that was obtainable a week before. Southbound freights from Ireland to the western Med are being reported at EUR 20/mt, some EUR 2/mt higher than two weeks before. The extent and magnitude of this upswing remains to be seen, but owners are hopeful for the first time in some time.
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