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While the ports of China improve their volumes the embates move to the east coast of the USA.

The port of Savannah now has 42 ships on hold, six times the number it can service.


Chinese ports show an improvement in both import and export shipping volumes as COVID-19 closures have decreased, according to data from the FourKites supply chain visibility platform.  The volume in the port of Shanghai has increased since mid-May, and the average of 14 days of maritime cargo volume is only 2% lower compared to March 12 (the day before the entry into force of the blockades )», said Philippe Salles, Vice President of Strategic Solutions (Ocean) at Fourkites. «This is an improvement compared to mid-May, when the volume of shipments decreased by up to 25% in the same period».

Meanwhile, other Chinese ports have remained strong, with a volume in the port of Shenzhen having noticed 25% and in the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan 35% compared to 12 March.

The platform has continued to observe a strong recovery of the volume that is transported from China to the United States, with an average in 14 days only 3% lower than the levels observed on March 12.  «The volume on this route had reached a minimum of 43% in mid-April and late April», added Salles, who qualified the information by noting that «Delays remain high, however, with the average percentage of 14 days of shipments delayed along this lane by 37% compared to the maximum of 39% seen in mid-April and late April».

East coast of USA in trouble

While in Chinese ports the flow of cargo tends to recover, history is another in the US, where the East Coast (USEC) suffers the onslaught of supply chain fluctuations.  According to the latest edition of Blue Alpha Capital’s The McCown Report, the problems are now settling in the USEC, as while the West Coast (USWC) accounted for more than two-thirds of container carriers waiting for a docking site in January, now the number equals only one third “as the ships anchored and the resulting congestion has shifted eastward,” the report says.

This is how the ports of Houston and New York now have as many container ships waiting for a travel site as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (LA-LB).  However, the biggest increase has been seen in Savannah, which now has 42 ships in line, that is, six times the number the port can accommodate, which translates into a wait of 14 days anchored.

In contrast, LA-LB ports observed an average of 22 container ships waiting for a travel site during June, a 33% drop since May and a 79% reduction since the beginning of the year.

According to the report, increased congestion in USEC ports has been driven in part by changes by shipping lines seeking to avoid delays in LA-LB, partly fearing a possible strike by ILWU dockers at USWC, To which it is necessary to add the traffic jam of 29.000 railway containers in the docks of Los Angeles and the long labor dispute that maintain the workers of this sector that they claim wage improvements and bonuses and that recently has forced the intervention of President Biden.


The most worrying thing is usually the future, since according to the report continuous delays in the ports of USA are expected in general.  In fact, the main terminals recorded a 5.9% increase in incoming volumes so far in July.  “Container ships are now waiting on all coasts and many ports are operating close to or at maximum capacity, it seems clear that even more will put pressure on the US port system.  “, says the McCown report.

Philippe Salles of Fourkites, agrees on the concern regarding what happens on the China-US route.  «Although the situation is softening, we are nowhere near the volumes and transit times we saw before COVID».  Moreover, he predicts that «going forward, supply chains are likely to become more complex».

Another point to watch- they say- are the transit times of maritime cargo: “The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is expected to issue new emission standards in 2023, which will probably result in a reduction in the speed of ships.  We will therefore see further delays and uncertainties in global supply chains».



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