COVID-19 outbreaks and the subsequent restrictions have caused snags and delays at ports worldwide over the past year and a half, with consequences reaching far beyond the shores where they originate.
What do these unpredictable waves of infection mean for the global supply chain and overall economic impact? Let’s take a look into a recent incident in Yantian to find out.
One of the biggest disruptions as of late has taken place at the Port of Yantian, located in China’s southern trade hub Shenzhen and representing one of the largest ports in the world. A COVID-19 outbreak involving port workers caused cascading delays for up to 5% of global freight capacity. With limitations bringing operations to less than 30% of total capacity at times, cargo congestion is projected to continue for at least another month.
Recent reports show that delays began decreasing as of July 1, with a seven-day average dwell time of 12.9 days for exports and 4.2 days for inbound cargo, compared to last month’s peak of 25.4 days. Though the current outlook is improving, projections say that it could still take a month or even more to fully clear clogged production facilities and storage spaces. Nearby ports where cargo was redirected in an effort to avoid congestion are likely to be beleaguered with backlogs for even longer.
Even as Yantian clears, these effects are far-reaching in a global market where shipping capacity is in high demand. Supply chains are already struggling to keep up with a booming economy, reduced labor force, and lack of shipping containers. Shippers are eager and waiting for space on ships, and this increase in blank sailings was simply another blow to capacity.
As we’ve noted in a past blog, although the availability of vaccines has been steadily increasing since the start of the year, pandemic-related obstacles are still to be expected. Until vaccines have been more widely distributed and the pandemic is fully behind us, it may be some time before the logistics industry is clear of inevitable delays and crises like those observed in Yantian.
Reach out to your TOC representative for guidance on keeping pace with these ever-changing times.