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Container shortages and sky-high prices could persist for several more months

2021-07-6 CTJPA

Shipping container shortages and voyage cancellations could persist for ‘several more months’, impacting the soaring freight rates further with peak sales season just around the corner and port congestions in Europe, the US, and China still ongoing.

This is the latest warning to be issued by the Taiwanese branch of DB Schenker, a major player in supply chain management and logistics solutions, when the company addressed the topic of international shipping at an online news conference this week.
Speaking at the conference, Schenker Taiwan vice president, Antoine Bouin said that ongoing disruptions at ports in southern China ‘would have a more serious effect on the market’ than the Suez Canal incident in March this year.
The Yantian port in Guangdong Province’s Shenzhen currently handles 24 per cent of China’s total exports but has suffered major backlogs in recent weeks following an outbreak of Covid-19 that forced the port to close for a week last month.
Subsequent controls and access limits have reduced operations and as a knock-on effect have seen congestion spill over to other ports in Guangdong and Asia. Bouin said that while the port is back at normal capacity, the backlog is likely to take several weeks to clear.
“Empty container shortages are worsened by port congestion in Europe and the US, and recently, by China’s Yantian port backlog,” said Bouin. “Port congestion, berthing delays, flow imbalances and the slow return of empty containers have caused shipping lines to skip some of their regular trips and pushed global shipping reliability to an historic low.”
Reported by the Taipei Times, Bouin has warned that shipping rates are therefore likely to remain high for the rest of the year.
Fees for empty freight containers have skyrocketed in recent weeks by as much as 300 to 400 per cent, leaving many manufacturers across the toy and games space to either suffer big losses or transfer some of the costs to end consumers by upping prices on games.
The issue has reached such levels that the British Toy and Hobby Association this week has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office asking for action to be taken over the soaring prices of containers worldwide.
Chairman Graham Canning has warned the government that disruption at ports across the world will lead to a shortage of toys on the market this Christmas ‘as companies struggle to get their products into the UK.’
The organisation has urged the Prime Minister and government to “put pressure on the shipping lines before the UK economy is impacted” and to “urgently consider” relief measures for companies impacted by the current situation.
At his news conference, Bouin concluded that companies should ‘draw up accurate forecasts of volume for next quarter, plan together with shipping lines, and make capacity commitments to secure space.’