Disruptions in the maritime transport system
The pandemic has led to major disruptions in the global maritime transport system. The shipping lines cut down their capacity at an early stage by reducing the number of ships and by increasing the blank sailings. When the economy started to pick up again the result was a large imbalance of equipment with a shortage of containers in Asia, where the production increased notably and a surplus of containers in the USA where due to Covid, there was not enough staff to handle the large quantities of goods. In order to meet the demand, the shipping lines have vacuumed the world of empty containers but they have also made large investments in new containers for the Chinese market. Europe has experienced a shortage of equipment for export as some shipping lines send back empty containers for revenue reasons as it is more efficient to ship empty containers than loaded ones. In some cases, the vessels return directly to China without cargo, which further worsen the shortage.
The major ports in Europe have not had capacity enough to handle all vessels which has caused congestion. Bad weather during spring and Ever Given that ran aground in the Suez Canal has further worsened the situation.
The latest addition is a local outbreak of Covid among port workers in Shenzhen, which has led the Chinese authorities to act strongly with mass testing and lock down of certain areas, which in turn has negatively affected the ports of Yantian, Shenzhen and Nansha.
As a result sea freight rates have increased and delays are the new normal, often by several weeks. Scanlink is happy to offer other alternatives such as air freight or rail but even here the rates are high and the space is tight.
We feel that Swedish companies at the moment are looking for new suppliers in Europe, if so we can help out with the transports. Scanlink has a large European network and a long experience of continental traffic.
You are welcome to get in touch!