‘Worrying and unceasing congestion’ in supply chain continues to affect global trade

Supply chain disruptions continue to roil global trade and there is no end in sight with a port in China adding to the fragility of moving goods around the world.

Delays from congestion at South Chinese ports due to the rise in Covid cases is the latest reason affecting the global supply chains again. In fact, after a weeklong stop on export containers, the Yantian Port Authorities announced on Thursday that productivity is set to increase slowly as workers are coming back. But the damage is already done and the current estimated wait is over a fortnight. According to a statement by Maersk, this has led to many ships changing their routes. Over 300 carriers will now skip the Yantian port. 19 of Maersk‘s mainline services have been affected due to this.

Bloomberg reported that a cargo vessel operated by Cosco Shipping Lines Co. will skip a scheduled port stop in Singapore this month because of delays in China, according to alliance partner Ocean Network Express Holdings Ltd. One of CMA CGM’s vessels heading to China in July will also not call at the Southeast Asia trans-shipment hub.

Fighting to get reliability back into operations and services on schedule after the Suez Canal incident in March, the port congestion in Yantian comes at a time when global supply chains are already stretched.

Maersk says the worrying, and unceasing congestion is becoming a global problem. “Terminals are becoming global bottlenecks, be it at berths, yards or gating out cargo, and it’s continuing throughout the logistics chain – in the warehouses, the distribution centres – with numbers on the rise,” says the Maersk statement.

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The most prominent bottleneck right now is Yantian given the sheer size of it, with it being the third largest terminal in the world, but still there are many other ports where a one or two-day wait is becoming the norm, even if arriving on time. The current average waiting time in Shekou, Nansha, and Hongkong is between 2-4 days, but as more carriers omit Yantian, this number is expected to rise.

Yantian port in late May temporarily suspended the acceptance of export-laden container ships, leading to a heavy backlog in the container yard and congestion outside the port. By the time Yantian partly resumed processing on Monday, more than 23,000 containers were waiting to be exported.

According to reports shipping delays might continue till 2022. Meanwhile, global container shipping rates have climbed to record highs in recent months due to bottlenecks caused by a surge in demand for consumer goods.

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