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Ships piling up at China’s congested ports as well

Ships piling up at China’s congested ports as well

View of container terminals at Yantian Port in Shenzhen city, south Chinas Guangdong province, 18 September 2005.

We normally read about the congestion in US ports but as of today, more than 150 containerships are waiting to load at the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo and 242 are waiting for berths across the country.

Typhoon Chanthu that hit the mainland last week and the Covid crisis, combined with the usual start of the transpacific peak season are seen as the main drivers of this worsening trend.

When operations at Shenzhen-Yantian terminal were curtailed by Covid-19 in June, the number of ships at anchor in California’s San Pedro Bay declined. The problem for California ports was that the temporary reprieve was soon followed by a surge in delayed cargo.

This whiplash effect is wreaking havoc to global supply chains and these swings are expected to become more volatile. When the system is already stretched as it is today, this sets off a chain effect.

A major driver of congestion on both sides of the Pacific is limited landside capacity (terminals, trucking, railyard and warehousing) while vessel capacity remains highly flexible.

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