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Global Shortage on Shipping Containers and Congestion in China's Ports

Despite worldwide efforts to economically rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, current global shortages on shipping containers are having wide-spread impacts on cargo cost, container space availability and the filling of goods orders.

Exports from China have surged dramatically in the past six months, forcing China's industrial manufacturing factories to work overtime to produce all the consumer goods being required in high demand around the world. However as China only imports one container for every three exported, coupled with the impacts of the pandemic locally and globally, there is now a severe shortage of containers impacting export flow in China,

Despite there being approximately 180 million containers worldwide, average container turnaround times have skyrocketed from 60 days to 100 days, forcing companies bid for the little container space with high prices. The grounding of most international passenger travel which typically carries cargo as well has also boosted the already exacerbated demand for maritime freight.

This shortage has caused a drastic spike in shipping rates, as highlighted in the below images.

To keep up with the increasing demand for containers, container manufacture has expanded and boosted capacity, but are still falling short due to shortages of steel, floor timber and qualified welders. Industry experts and observers expect that the tightness of container availability and space will continue until the coronavirus vaccines are rolled out globally and until increased international travel recommences.

In conjunction with the container shortage, increased spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and large demand for exports has caused mass ship congestion in southern China. As of the 10th June 2021, there are more loads of freight being impacted in this area than the Suez Canal blockage of March 2021. There are currently around 160,000 shipping containers waiting to be loaded onto ships at Yantian alone, forcing some vessels to skip the ports until the congestion clears. Shipping experts are warning that these delays will have impacts around the world on the global supply chain, such as increase to product prices, delays in the fulfilment of orders and mass shortages of goods.

While we understand these are extreme and rapidly changing circumstances, this container shortage and export overdrive in China will have global impacts on the logistics and transport industry. Image International has partnered with high-quality global agents, working together to minimise the impacts on our clients and consumers. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any updates as soon as possible to keep our clients well-informed.


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