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Freight rates are fees a shipping company will charge for freight to be transported from one location to another. Due to the many steps involved in moving cargo, there are many different rates you should be aware of. And keep in mind that rates can change over time. Once a year, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development publishes the Review of Maritime Transport Report which lists the average freight rates on major routes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the United States of America also has historical data on ocean and air freight rates. It would be wise for you to take a look at these reports to be sure you're receiving competitive rates.
Be aware that you will encounter rates for containers based on their size and weight, and of course the rate will vary for bulk cargo too. For the U.S. national market, a standard unit called CWT is used to express 100 pounds. This is also known as a "hundred weight." The weight you can be charged, or chargeable weight, could be either the scaled weight or dimensional/volume weight. A container rate is an amount based on the entire container, whether it is full or not. Containers come in two different forms: structural and non-structural. The former is quite firm and does not require any netting to restrain it. The later ULD (unit loading device) is more like a shell or casing that has no flooring and therefore needs to be housed on a pallet with netting and accessories to keep it all together.
There is a large variety of rates that exist in this industry. Below you can find even more:
Charter Rate: When someone wants to hire an airplane or boat temporarily, this is called a charter. The two parties must agree on a price for this service, which is known as the charter rate.
Joint Rate: This is one fee for transporting cargo between two or more air freight companies or between air and ocean, sea, road or rail companies.
General Commodity Rate (GCR): These freight rates are based on the distance between the origin and destination points and the weight of the cargo. In the air cargo industry, for example, the GCRs between cities serviced are published.
Specific Commodity Rate (SCR): These rates are generally lower than the General Commodity Rates because they are designated for large volume consignments. You will encounter different SCRs for each market.
Exception Rate: These freight rates are generally higher than the General Commodity Rates because they are attributed to special cargo such as human organs or remains, live animals, or exclusive automobiles.
Contract Rate: If a consignor and consignee have an ongoing relationship, they may establish an unpublished rate which will reflect a discount due to the volume or frequency of the shipments.
Negotiated Rate: Thanks to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, air freight companies and airlines are now free to negotiate freight rates as they like.
Deferred Rate: If a shipper needs to cut costs, he may yield to a lower level of service in order to obtain a cheaper rate. This is where the deferred rate comes in. Both the consignor and consignee are free to set a lower rate, but the conditions of the new rate must be clear. For some shippers this may not be an option, whereas for others (smaller players, local agents, newcomers, etc.) they might not mind having less space available to them in a container or in an airplane's cargo hold, for example, if it means they can save a bit on the deal.