The disruptions started in the second half of last year after demand for goods sank when the pandemic struck and carriers cut sailings, but locked-down consumers then ordered products online at an unprecedented rate.
Shipping companies’ efforts to catch up have been set back by the Suez Canal blockage in March and the Yantian terminal closure, as well as border restrictions and port worker absences.
An indefinite partial shutdown at Ningbo-Zhoushan is the latest problem that could deepen the strain on global logistics. Shipping lines have already started to omit calling at the Chinese port near Shanghai.
About 350 containerships capable of carrying almost 2.4m 20ft boxes are waiting off ports globally, according to VesselsValue. The congestion has been getting worse with idle capacity reaching 4.6 per cent of the global fleet, up from 3.5 per cent last month, data from Clarksons Platou Securities shows.
Lars Mikael Jensen, head of global ocean network at Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping group, agreed that the situation had shown no signs of improvement since the Delta variant of Covid emerged.
“It’s not getting any better on aggregate,” he said, adding that maritime transport networks are “still super stretched — it only takes a small thing then you’re back to square one or square one minus”.
The influence of the pandemic has resulted in sustained pressure on global supply chains. The primary difficulty for ports is ships have been one of the primary vectors through which the virus has spread internationally and many ports are having difficulty maintaining staffing levels because of infections among workers.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top