A Covid-19 outbreak at one of the world’s busiest ports has caused shipping delays around the world – and could lead to shortages as Christmas approaches, according to industry experts.
More than 150 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Guangdong Province, with ports in the region including Yantian, Shekou, Chiwan and Nansha experiencing problems and delays.
“Past breaking point”
The outbreak in Guangdong is the latest in a number of setbacks for the industry – shipping companies have struggled to keep up with changes in demand caused by the pandemic, and the industry is still on the move to manage the fallout from the recent blockage of the Suez Canal.
Ocean Network Express (ONE) said the Yantian international container terminal continues to operate below capacity due to Covid restrictions. Congestion at the Shekou and Chiwan container terminals has reached over 90% of its capacity.
James Baker, container editor at shipping industry publication Lloyd’s List, said: “Because the system is so overloaded, every time one of these things happens now, the system is already at the point of. breaking, or past the cooking point, so everything else just adds water. at the mill.
“Ripple effects around the world”
Nick Marro, Hong Kong-based chief global trade analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “This comes at a really fragile time when we are only just beginning to see the recovery in world trade picking up steam.”
Lars Mikael Jensen, network manager of AP Moller-Maersk A / S, the Danish shipping giant, said the delay would be felt globally.
“It’s a huge and very busy port and when you get delayed there it has a ripple effect on supply chains around the world,” Jensen said.
“The delays are piling up”
Nils Haupt, communications director of the German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, said: “One of the biggest ports in China has closed for almost three weeks.
“They have a few berths in service, but far from sufficient.”
Ships have been diverted from Yantian to other terminals, but this shift has caused problems in itself.
“You can use ports like Shekhou, you can use Nansha, you can use Hong Kong; but what we are seeing right now is that the delays are piling up there too, ”explained Haupt.
The disruption could lead to a shortage of goods before Christmas for UK retailers.
Even under usual circumstances, companies are starting to gather seasonal inventory from China months in advance, with the process starting in late summer.
Baker said: “One of the issues right now that is contributing to the congestion is the fact that everyone knows the turnaround times are really slow, so retailers are already reserving their Christmas products.
“Traditionally, peak season for container shipping begins in the third quarter, when everyone is fueling up for the holiday season in the west, but this year we are already in a permanent peak season, and God knows. what will happen in August or September.
“It could get crazy. It’s very difficult to say!
While the situation may improve, Baker recommends that you “start shopping now” if you are looking to purchase gifts for friends and family.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-13 13:31:48