Ongoing problems at some of China’s busiest ports, including restrictions keeping them from operating at full capacity as well as the high cost of shipping rates, could have a significant impact on the holiday season, Business Insider reports.
Ningbo-Zhousan, the second-busiest port in China located about 200 km south of Shanghai, recently had over 50 ships waiting to dock after one of the main terminals was forced to close after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Business Insider notes that eight of the world’s 10 busiest ports are unable to run at full capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions. These long waits have caused the rate on shipping containers to rise almost 10-times the normal amount in some cases.
"About 10% of the global container capacity is stacked on ships stuck outside congested ports," Lars Jensen, the chief executive of Vespucci Maritime, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. "We are in peak season prior to the year-end holidays and we are dealing with a serious capacity crunch."
Business Insider also notes that unlike in 2020, when global demand for many products fell after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are now reopening and causing a surge in demand for consumer products. Additionally, the recent blockage in the Suez Canal last March caused weeks-long delays, and prompted many ships to leave without being fully packed with empty containers, which has caused a shortage in Asia.
"We are making record profits, but also screamed and yelled at by customers because of the high cost and delays," a spokesperson for German international shipping company Hapag-Lloyd AG told the Journal. "We are the first ones to return to normalcy, but we don’t see it happening before early next year."
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