AFTER a thorough review of the performance of the trade so far in 1993 and the prospects for next year, member lines of the Eastbound Management Agreement (EMA) for the North Europe-Asia Trade have announced the first stage of a business plan for 1994. At a recent meeting it decided that effective January 1, 1994, rates will be restored by US$150 per 20-foot container and by $225 per 40-foot container. The business plan will be kept under review throughout 1994 and lines are likely to seek a further restoration during the second half of the year after which rates would still be below published tariff levels. For some time the lines have been explaining to their customers the serious situation in which they have been placed by the decline in rates throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. This situation has been particularly apparent in this trade and as a result many lines have announced large losses and some carriers have been forced to withdraw altogether. Meanwhile, trade volumes from North Europe to Asia have increased enormously and virtually doubled between 1982 and 1992. This rise is continuing with year-on-year increases in double-digit figures both in 1991-92 and 1992-93 to date. An index of average rates over the same period shows that from 100 in early 1982 it had by the end of 1992 dropped to around 85. However, when increases in lines' costs and inflation are taken into account, the real index - the ''worth'' of the average rates in current terms - was approximately 50, that is, lines had seen a decline in their real freight of some 40 per cent. The setting up of EMA as an autonomous conference unit in April 1992 has been used by lines to get closer to their customers and to explain to them the real decline in rates, stabilise the trade and begin the essential process of rate restoration. Press announcements have been made regularly explaining lines' difficulties and their rating intentions. As a first step lines introduced a degree of stabilisation by ending further rates reductions. Only when this had taken hold was it possible to obtain some rate improvement with a restoration of some $75 per 20-foot container and $100 per 40-foot container from September this year. This rise had only a small effect on the overall revenue situation but its reception in the trade indicated that customers are beginning to appreciate the need for realistic pricing if the service provided by EMA members is to continue. The EMA lines have therefore agreed to advise customers as early as possible of their intentions for 1994 and particularly the amount of the rate restoration to be applied on January 1 next year, the organisation said. Even after this restoration, rates would generally remain very low compared with those needed to give carriers an adequate return on their huge investment in the trade, it said. The lines, therefore, intend to use the coming months to explain on a wider basis and in greater detail the problems they have to face and the need for the present and future restoration. Member lines of the EMA are CGM Orient, Hapag-Lloyd, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), Maersk Line, Malaysian International Shipping Corp, Mitsui OSK, Nedlloyd Lines, Neptune Orient Lines, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Overseas Container Line, and P & O Containers.