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Exports from Asia hit by port congestion

Container port congestion at key Asian hubs continues to worsen, with berthing delays in China and Southeast Asia, and nearly half of all Asia-Europe westbound sailings failing to depart on time last week.

Although the number of containers waiting at Singapore has eased slightly from 450,000 teu a week ago to 380,000 teu, Port Klang and Tanjung Pelepas are now under pressure, as waiting times rise across all main Chinese port regions with Shanghai and Qingdao experiencing the longest delays.

Ships have had to wait up to five days to berth at Shanghai, with vessel-tracking data showing 54 container ships in Shanghai, including at anchorage and 53 at Singapore, where the shuttered Keppel Terminal has reopened to try and help clear the backlog.

The delays have also resulted in vessel bunching, which contributes further to berthing delays and operations at downstream ports.

An example of the accumulative impact of port congestion is ONE’s vessel, the MOL Presence, operating its Japan-Straits Malaysia loop. The vessel was six days late when it called at Hong Kong on the 12th May, which increased to seven days when it reached Port Klang in Malaysia, while congestion at Singapore means it would be 10 days late calling there on the 23rd May.

The bottlenecks have caused some operators, including CMA CGM, to skip Singapore calls and ports in south-east and north-east Asia are still the most congested, accounting for 29% and 23% of vessel queues globally.

Market analysts estimate that scheduled Asia-Europe capacity for June is 3% lower year on year, even with the addition of services by Hapag-Lloyd and Ellerman, while Evergreen, Yang Ming and Wan Hai do not foresee any let-up in congestion, and expect freight rates to remain high into Q3, with continued delays and reduced capacity available due to forced blankings.

Port congestion and the consequential delayed vessel schedules is also creating issues with empty container availability, as boxes become delayed in transit, resulting in lower stock availability in the regions and at ports where they are needed.

This impact is escalating daily on some trades and we will continue to update as this next challenge evolves at a fast rate.

We work closely with our network and carrier partners to monitor port congestion and equipment availability across Asia and Europe, with contingency plans to ensure product is delivered to market, without delay, until congestion finally subsides.

To learn how we can help you avoid disruption and port congestion, to get your consignments shipped from Asia, please EMAIL our managing director, Colin Redman.