Are shipping contracts only available to Pro Licenses via the local exchange? Nothing at all shipping-wise for those using the Free License?
Correct. However, shipping is more of a perk than a core element of the game, and most trade happens on the commodity exchange. So not having access to the Local Market won’t hold you back much if you decide to stick with the Free License.
I thought you can do shipping on CX with TRIAL (with Basic for sure), I even think you can post shipping ad on CX, but that’s easy to check.
I heard that the ability to post ads on the CX LM by trial users was a bug, and it’s now been fixed. But I have never tested it. Trial users certainly couldn’t accept any ads, because they all require a minimum of P rating.