The status of sea freights from the Far East
31 March 2021
Usually, both March and April signify a lull in activities. Months in which the frenzy of the Chinese New Year has passed and people slowly prepare for the summer peak times to come. However, nothing has been ‘usual’ since the coronavirus reared its head. Problems with capacity, strikes, congestion, and shy-high tariffs have sadly been the order for the day for quite some time now. What are the latest developments?
The current situation
The sea freight tariffs have been sky-high since the end of 2020, and there doesn’t seem an end in sight for the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. We were quietly confident in our announcement that container shortages showed signs of waning last month, yet we are now dealing with the consequences of the Suez Canal blockage. This has caused overflowing European terminals and delays for cargo waiting to leave, among other issues.
It goes without saying that the current capacity problems are not helped by this blockage. The delays in the Suez Canal will cause extra pressure on European terminals in a few weeks. As soon as Ever Given is freed, there are another 350 ships behind it that need to pass through the canal. This will once again cause delays for many consignments. What’s more, it will also affect the ships still waiting to leave.
Congestion and container shortages in the Far East
Obviously, the problems in the Suez Canal have a major impact on global congestion problems. The current loading peaks are still caused by the effects of lockdowns. Consumers have more disposable income not being spent on holidays, creating a great demand for products from the Far East. As such, the high demand for containers continues.
In addition, the congestion problems have now also reached one of the largest transshipment ports in the Far East: Singapore. This port is currently dealing with average waiting times of five to seven days. This is on top of the usual two-day handling time.
Why does this affect handling in Rotterdam?
All ships now experiencing delays due to the Suez Canal situation will also arrive in European ports later. This means the pressure in the terminals will be huge in a few weeks. Ships will have to wait or divert to other terminals.
It could also be that so-called double calls are implemented to speed up unloading and loading activities. Double calls is when consignments are dumped at a terminal before moving to another port, then returning to pick up another consignment.
Finally, new strikes have been announced for terminal staff. It is currently not known if and when these will go ahead. If these strikes do take place, this will also have a major impact on handling in Rotterdam.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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